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ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 



ENGLISH POOR LAW 
POLICY. BY SIDNEY 
AND BEATRICE WEBB 



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NEW YORK, BOMBAY AND CALCUTTA. 

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CONTENTS 



Preface 



PAQB ' 



CHAPTER I 
The Revolution of 1834 

The 1834 Report— National Uniformity— The Able-bodied — Vagrants- 
Women— The Children— The Sick— The Aged and Impotent (or 
Infirm)— The Workhouse— Emigration — Relief on Loan — The Prin- 
ciples of 1834. 

The Act of 1834 and its Amendments — National Uniformity— The Able- 
bodied — Vagrants — Women — Children — The Sick— The Aged and 
Impotent — The Workhouse — Emigration — Relief on Loan. 



CHAPTER II 
The Poor Law Commissioners . . . .21 

The Able-bodied (i.) on Outdoor Relief, (ii.) in the Workhouse- 
Vagrants— Women— Children— The Sick— Persons of Unsound Mind 
— Defectives— The Aged and Infirm — Non-Residents— The Workhouse 
— Admission — Segregation — Service — Diet — Cleanliness and Sanita- 
tion — Discipline — Employment — Sanctions — Discharge and Detention 
— The Workhouse of the General Consolidated Order of 1847— The 
position in 1847 compared with the Principles of 1834. 



CHAPTER III 
The Poor Law Board . '"^^"^ -'"?'. . .88 

The Able-bodied— National Uniformity— Municipal Work for the Un- 
employed — Vagrants — Women — Children — The Sick — Persons of 
Unsound Mind— Defectives— The Aged and Infirm— Non-Residents— 
The Workhouse— Emigration — Relief on Loan— Co-operation with 
Voluntary Agencies — The Position in 1871. 

xi 



/ 



xU ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

CHAPTER IV 

PAGE 

The Local Government Board . I'll'"^ ^7 ^ 147 

The Able-bodied — National Uniformity — The Workhouse Test — The 
Labour Test— The modified "Workhouse Test Order— The Test Work- 
house — The Provision of Employment — The Farm Colony — Vagrants 
— Women — Children (i.) on Outdoor Eelief; (ii.) in Poor Law 
I - _ Schools ; (iii.) the Workhouse Children ; (iv.) The Education of the 
i Indoor 1*301. J' C'-lil'i ; (v. ) Boarding-out ; Cvi. ) A.rijrenticeship ; (vii.) 

Adoption — The Sick — Domiciliary Treatment — Insiitutional Treat- 
ment — The Municipal Medical Service — Persons of Unsound Mind — 
Defectives — The Aged and Infirm— Outdoor Relief— Indoor Relief — 
Non - Residents — The Workhouse — Emigration — Relief on Loan — 
Co-operation with Voluntary Agencies. 

CHAPTER V 

The Principles of 1907. .... 257 

The Departures from the Principles of 1834 — Tlie Principle of National 
Uniformity — The Principle of Less Eligibility — The Workhouse 
System — New Principles unknown in 1834 — The Principle of Ciirative 
Treatment — The Principle of Universal Provision — The Principle of 
Compulsion — The Contrast between 1834 and 1907 — No Man's Land. 

CHAPTER VI 

The Majority Report of the Royal Commission of 

1905-1909 . . . . .274 

The Princiijles of 1907 — The Plea for a Single Destitution Authority — 
The Reversion to 1834 — The mutual Incompatibility of the Proposals 
of the Majority Report — The Principle of Curative Treatment and a 
Destitution Authority — The Principle of Compulsion and a Destitu- 
tion Authority — The Principle of Universal Provision and a Destitu- 
tion Authority. 

CHAPTER VII 

The Minority Report of the Royal Commission of 

1905-1909 . . . . .296 

The Principle of Prevention — The "Moral Factor" in the Problem of 
Destitution — The Sphere of Voluntary Agencies in the Prevention of 
Destitution. 



CONTENTS xiii 



CHAPTER VIII 



PAOB 



Summary and Conclusion . . . .312 



Appendix A . . .... 321 

Memorandum by the Local Government Board as to the Local 
Authorities for Poor Law purposes and the Out-relief Orders in 
force at the end of Ihe^vears 1847. 1871, 1906. 



Appendix B ..... . 343 

Extract from the Minority Report for Scotland giving the reasons in 
favour of the Complete Supersession of the Poor Law. 

Index of Unions and other Places mentioned , 365 

Index of Subjects . . . . .371 



\1 



ENGLISH POOE "lAW POLICY 

The English Poor Law Policy, of which we present an analysis, 
is that which has been from time to time promulgated for the 
authoritative guidance of local authorities in the relief of the 
destitute, whether laid down by Parliament or by Departments 
of the National Government. This policy is to be found 
principally in (1) Orders, whether " General " or " Special " ; 
(2) circulars and other instructional communications to officials 
and to local authorities, and (3) reports to Parliament. These 
documents fall into three periods, 1834-1847, 1847-1871, 
and 1871—1907, corresponding respectively with the Poor 
Law Commissioners, the Poor Law Board, and the Local 
Government Board. But these are themselves governed by 
(4) the Act of 1834 and subsequent amending statutes; and 
the Act of 1834 itself lays down no policy, and having regard 
to its origin, and to its immediate connection with the recent 
Eoyal Commission, it cannot be understood without (6) the 
Eeport of the Eoyal Commission of 1834. Hence it is con- 
venient, if not indispensable, in order to render the subsequent 
"nalysis intelligible, to begin with an exact statement of tlie 
propotsals of the Eeport of 1834.^ 

1 This analysis is confined to relief in all its various forms, excluding all 
questions of chargeability (or the recovery from other persons of the amount 
expended on relief), settlement, removal, assessment, rating, and mere adminis- 
trative procedure. 



XV 



PKEFACE 

ISToTHiNG of to-day, it may be suggested, can be really under- 
stood without its hiSuory. This, atuWirfc.rate, is true of the 
complicated policy of the ^'''.■^na./^ Foot Law, which is now 
(1910) costing the public (for the United Kingdom) close 
upon twenty millions sterling every year ; and which is pro- 
ducing, on the whole, results which led the Eoyal Commis- 
sioners of 1905-1909, without distinction of political or 
economic party or creed, to their unanimous and emphatic 
condemnatory verdict. That policy is embodied in a be- 
wildering chaos of Statutes and Orders, Circulars and Minutes, 
general reports and official letters, the specific provisions of 
which, so far as they are contemporaneously in force, and so 
far as they are publicly known, the legal text-books and 
elementary manuals seek to re-arrange in such a way that 
the Poor Law Guardian or Workhouse Master may learn, 
at any rate, what is legally prescribed. But though j, precise 
statement of what is to-day prescribed, in "alphabetical or other 
order, may suffice for the practical work of the administrator, 
it does not afford us any idea of the general policy that lies 
behind the prescriptions, and fails even to enable the ordinary 
citizen to understand what is being done. We suggest, in 
short, that the English Poor Law policy of to-day cannot be 
correctly appreciated, or even intelligently comprehended, 
without some knowledge of the stages through which, in the 
course of the past seventy-five years, it has gradually been 
moulded into its present form. To any one who compares 
the contents of the Annual Report of the Local Government 
Board of to-day with those of the slim little volume in which 
the Poor Law Commissioners of 1835 described their activity, 
it will be evident that, throughout the whole range of the 



ti V 



vi ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

Poor Law, the Policy of the Central Authority has undergone 
great changes. What these changes have actually been, and 
at what dates and in what order they occurred, the following 
chronological analysis of the action of the Poor Law Com- 
missioners, the Poor Law Board, and the Local Government 
Board for England and Wales attempts to set forth. 

The extent, the complication, and what may be thought 
the aridity of this analysis may probably daunt many who 
ouglit to read it. But if they will persevere, they will find 
that the severe and exact chronological record through which 
tliej are taken with regard to each class of paupers — the 
Able-bodied, ilie Ys.Z^"^'"' aiiV* Sick, tiit 'Women, the Children, 
the Aged, etc. — will presei...^ .jveal to them the current in 
which they are themselves moving, the stream of tendencies 
down which we are all floating, with a clearness of com- 
prehension not otherwise to be obtained. It is here 
not a question of whether we approve of this evolution of 
policy, or of whether we should seek to promote or to 
resist it, but merely of what exactly it has been, and there- 
fore now is. 

In view of the attention given to the Poor Law by many 
writers, it is, perhaps, a matter for surprise, that no such 
chronological analysis of policy has before been undertaken. 
Except in regard to a few special matters, it is impossible, in 
any published work, to trace the exact course of development 
of English Poor Law policy since the great revolution of 
1834. The most systematic books upon the English Poor 
Law System, such as those by Dr. Aschrott and Monsieur 
fimile Chevalier,^ have confined themselves, in the main, to 
a description of the contemporary state of things, with only 
comparatively brief and general accounts of how it came 
about. The popular manuals, such as the admirable little 
book of the Eev. T. W. Fowle, can naturally only give such 
scraps of history as are current.^ Even Mr, Mackay, in 

1 See, for instance, The English Poor Law System, by Paul Felix Aschrott, 
translated by H. Preston Thomas, 1888 and 1902 ; La Loi des pauvres et la 
soci&A anglaisc, par E. Chevalier, 1895 ; The Better Administration of the 
Poor Law, by Sir William Chance, Bart., 1895 ; The Public Relief of the Poor, 
by T. Mackay, 1901 ; L' Assistance Ugale et la lutte contre le paii-perisme en 
Angleterre, par G. E. de Froment, 1905. 

2 The Poor Law, by the Rev. T. W. Fowle, 1881 ; The English Poor Laivs, by 



V) 



PREFACE vii 

adding a third volume to Sir George Nicholls' History of the 
English Poor Law} has limited himself to a series of essays 
on particular points, without attempting any but the briefest 
chronological analysis of the evolution of policy of the Central 
Authority since 1834, upon which the whole administration 
of the Boards of Guardians depends. 

It is easy to understand this general reluctance to work 
out, from the materials themselves, the Poor Law history of 
the last three-quarters of a century. As with all ninete^'x^^^h- 
century history, the extent, the variety, and the intricacy of 
the various sources are siLrpiy Over\viielming. The numbe r 
of official records — Statutes, Orders, Circulars, Minutes, 
Eeports, Letters, etc. — dealt with for the present small volume 
(although we have confined ourselves in the main to the 
publications of the Central Authority itself, and have-not 
been able to consult the manuscript records and letter-books 
of more than a score of the Boards of Guardians) runs into, 
literally, tens of thousands. 

So great a mass of documentary material, without arrange- 
ment, unclassified, unindexed, formless, and void of any obvious 
significance, could be dealt with only by a systematic explora- 
tion. We may here describe, as an instance of sociological 
method, the plan that we adopted. What obscured the 
history was the manner in which masses of heterogeneous 
facts were heaped together. To read, one after another, 
these complicated Orders and lengthy Eeports, each dealing 
with all kinds of paupers and various methods of relief, was 
but to accumulate confusion. They resembled a heap of 
geological conglomerates which could not be assayed until 
they had been broken up in such a way as to sort the different 
materials into separate homogeneous parcels. We discarded 
all idea of making precis, summaries, or analyses of particular 
statutes or orders, believing that in this way brevity is gained 
only at the expense of omitting important qualifications. 
After the choice of a provisional scheme of classification, to 
which careful thought was given, the expressions of policy 
embodied in each document were all severally copied on loose 

Miss Sophia Lonsdale, 1897 and 1902 ; Our Trmtment of the Poor, by Sir Wm. 
Chance, Bart., 1899 ; The PuUic Relief of the Poor, by T. Mackay, 1901. 

1 History of the English Poor Law, vol. iii., from 1834 to the present time, 
by T. Mackay, 1899. 



X 



viii ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

sheets of paper of even size and shape. Every prescription 
or dictum conveying an expression of policy with regard to 
a particular class of paupers was placed upon a separate sheet. 
Thus, a single Order or Circular might yield items relating to 
women, to children, to persons on Outdoor Belief, to the sick, 
to the aged, and so on. However many and however closely 
related were the classes to which the same prescription 
applied, it was noted on a separate sheet for each of them, 
^ii;^ the date and place and exact source. To deal in this 
way, with scrupulous acci /fecy and exha-isdVeness, with all 
the Statutes, all the General Orders, all the Special Orders, 
all the Circulars, all the published Minutes, all the official 
reports, and all the letters of the Central Authority to which 
we could gain access absorbed something like nine months' 
continuous work. But for the first time order was evolved 
out of chaos. It was easy to sort the loose sheets by subjects, 
and to arrange each series chronologically. This done, we 
had before us, separated out from the mass, every prescription 
or dictum as to the policy to be pursued, or the action to be 
taken with regard to each particular class. The series of 
prescriptions and suggestions with regard to children, for 
instance, could be read in chronological sequence. At this 
stage it needed little ingenuity to seize the salient points. The 
development of policy leaped to the eyes. Another three 
months' work enabled the record to be put into a series of 
continuous narratives, with precise references to the original 
authorities. 

The reader who wants merely to know what it all 
amounts to should turn to the last four chapters. Here he 
will find, succinctly set forth, first "The Principles of 1907," 
being the principles on which, as a matter of fact, the Local 
Grovernment Board was (and still is) proceeding, in contrast 
with "The Principles of 1834," from which seventy-five years 
of experience have reluctantly driven it. In subsequent 
chapters will be found a critical examination of both the 
Majority and the Minority Beports of the Poor Law Com- 
mission of 1905-1909, in the light of these "Principles of 
1834 " and "Principles of 1907," with an attempt to appreciate 
what is novel in those Beports, and to estimate how far they 
are severally consistent with a due enforcement of personal 



PREFACE « 

responsibility.^ If the reader or reviewer is still more im- 
patient he will probably content himself with the final 
summary and conclusion. 

It remains for us to acknowledge the help without which 
this work could not have been accomplished. The task was 
undertaken at the suggestion of the Eoyal Commission on the 



*^orl 



v^A J. o u.ia u\^ 



Poor Law ; and it formed the subject of a rep,?rt 
to the Commission in July 1907. No printed document has 
been quoted which is not published to the world ; and (with 
trifling exceptions of ancient date) no unprinted Minute or 
Letter has been used which has not been issued as a public 
document, or is not freely accessible in the official archives. 
But we owe to the officials of the Local Government Board 
and of the Boards of Guardians concerned — and among so 
many it would be invidious to particularise — not only various 
facilities for consulting these public documents, but also many 
helpful suggestions, criticisms, and corrections of errors of 
fact. Above all we are indebted to Miss Mary Longman, of 
Girton College, Cambridge, and of the London School of 
Economics and Political Science, for the whole of the laborious 
service of effecting, under our direction, the preliminary 
breaking-up of the conglomerates, and much help in the more 
interesting work of making the final assay. Without this 
zealous, unsparing, and devoted assistance, we could not have 
found time to execute the work. Mrs. F. H. Spencer, D.Sc. 
(Econ.), investigated for us the records of various Boards of 
Guardians up and down the country, in order to trace their 
official correspondence with the Poor Law Commissioners, the 
Poor Law Board, and the Local Government Board. To Miss 
Mildred Bulkley, B.Sc. (Econ.), also of the London School of 
Economics and Political Science, we owe not only many 
suggestions of value, but also the checking of all the references, 
the correcting of the proofs, and the preparing of the index. 

SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB. 

41 Geosvenor Road, Westminster. 
January, 1910. 

' The Minority Report has been separately published in book form, in two 
volumes, The Break Up of The Poor Laiv, and The FvUic Organization of the 
Labour Market, each edited, with an introduction, by S. and B. Webb (Long- 
mans. 1909). 



; 



CHAPTER I 
THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 

It is unnecessary for us even to refer to the disastrous 
chaos into which the Poor Law and its local administration 
had in 1832 fallen, or to the events which led up to the 
celebrated Eoyal Commission appointed in that year. Their 
report, presented in 1834, and the Poor Law Amendment Act 
of the same year, together form the starting-point of all 
subsequent legislation and administration. 

The 1834 Repoet 

The proposals of the Commissioners of 1834 were either 
formal "recommendations," exceptionally displayed in promi- 
nent type, or suggestions scattered among the pages which 
purport to summarise the evidence. For instance, the famous 
" principle " that the situation of the pauper should not be 
made "really or apparently so eligible as the situation of the 
independent labourer of the lowest class " is not a " re- 
commendation," but occurs only as an assertion in the course 
of an argument.^ We have therefore included, in the follow- 
ing statement of "the principles of 1834," all dogmatic 
assertions of this nature, as well as the formal recommenda- 
tions. 

A. — National Uniformity 

The most revolutionary principle of the Report of 1834 
— the fundamental basis alike of the Act of 1834 and of 
the policy of the Central Authority — was that of national 

1 p. 228 of the Report of 1834. The references are to the latest reprint (1905). 

1 B 



2 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

uniformity in tlie treatment of each class of destitute persons. 
It was this principle that was in most marked contrast 
with the previous practice, under which each j)arish or union 
hud puraue^lts "own "Poor Law policy. It was tliTs prin- 
ciple" that Furnished the~gfoimd fol' the very existence of 
a Central Authority. The Commissioners recommended that 
there should be uniformity in the administration of relief in 
the different parts of the country, in order — 

(a) To reduce the "perpetual shifting" from parish to 
parish ; 

(6) To prevent discontent among paupers ; and 

(c) To bring the management more effectually under the 
control of Parliament.^ 

For this among other reasons the recommendation seemed 
to the Commissioners to follow, " as a necessary consequence," 
" that the Legislature should divest the local authorities of all 
discretionary power in the administration of relief." ^ But 
they did not put this recommendation into large type. What 
they put into large type was the recommendation that there 
should be a Central Authority to control the administration, 
directed, to frame and enforce regulations, " as far as may be 
practicable . . . uniform throughout the country." ^ 

It is to be noted that the uniformity proposed by the 
Commissioners was a geographical uniformity in the treatment 
of particular classes of paupers, both indoor and outdoor, in 
different places, not an identical treatment of all paupers, or of 
all the paupers in any one place. We shall deal presently with 
their varying recommendations with regard to particular classes. 
But in two categories they proposed a further uniformity, a 
uniformity in the treatment of different individuals in a class. 
They emphatically pointed out that any attempt to discriminate 
according to merit, in the award of outdoor relief, is dangerous 
and likely to lead to fraud.'* This proposed further uniformity 
of treatment among individuals in a class, it will be seen, is 
expressly limited to the amount to be given as outdoor relief. 
It is not repeated in that part of the Eeport which deals with 
classification in institutions, nor does it apply to the decision 
as to whether or not outdoor relief should be given at all. A 

» pp. 279-280 of the Report of 1834. 2 p, 294 of the Report of 1834. 

« p. 297 of the Report of 1834. * p. 47 of the Report of 1834. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 3 

further uniformity recommended by the Commissioners was 
that of identity of treatment of the able-bodied, whether 
deserving or undeserving. To this we shall refer in connection 
with the able-bodied. It is to be noted that the Commissioners 
do not explicitly apply it to any but the able-bodied.^ 

B. — The Able-Bodied 

Apart from a few stray suggestions, it might almost be 
said that the Eeport of 1834 was entirely directed to the 
treatment of the adult able-bodied labourer, with the family 
dependent on him. Let us take, for example, the famous 
principle, already referred to, that the situation of " the 
individual relieved shall not," on the whole, " be made really 
or apparently so eligible as the situation of the independent 
labourer of the lowest class." This proposal, characterised as 
" the first and most essential of all conditions," occurs, as a 
dogmatic assertion, in the discussion of the remedial measures 
to be applied to the able-hodied? It cannot be said to be clear 
from the Eeport whether the Commissioners wished this 
principle to be understood as applicable to the relief of any 
persons other than adult able-bodied wage-earners and their 
families. It is followed by forty-four pages of argument and 
illustration relating exclusively to the able-bodied wage-earner. 
These are summed up in a sentence at p. 279 ("If the vital 
evil of the system, relief to the ahle-hodied on terms more eligible 
than regular industry "), which points to the same limitation. 
The principle is not reasserted when the Commissioners, 
in quite other parts of their Eeport, make their few re- 
commendations with regard to the aged, the sick, and the 
orphan poor. We have failed, indeed, even to satisfy ourselves 
from the context whether the Commissioners had in their 
minds the case of the adult able-bodied woman without a 
husband. Though there is no phrase or definition excluding 
the independent female wage -earner from the term "able- 
bodied," the Commissioners frequently use this term as 
applicable to men only; and nowhere do they mention, in 
recommendation or by way of illustration, under the category 
of able-bodied, the independent woman worker. 

» pp. 263-264 of the Report of 1834. 2 p. 228 of the Report of 1834. 



4 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Wlien we pass to recommendations explicitly restricted to 
the able-bodied, we are left in the same uncertainty as to 
what the term includes. ISTo definition of able-bodied occurs 
in the Eeport. From the course of the argument throughout 
and all the illustrations from the evidence, we infer that the 
Commissioners had exclusively in view the adult man capable 
of obtaining employment in the labour market at any wage 
whatsoever, together with his wife and children under sixteen 
dependent on him. It is important to notice this ambiguity 
in the Eeport of 1834, because it explains a similar ambiguity 
in the subsequent policy of Parliament and the Central 
Authority. 

Assuming that we understand what classes of persons 
were intended by the Commissioners to be included under the 
term able-bodied, the proposals of the Eeport of 1834 are 
clear and peremptory : 

I. That outdoor relief to the able-bodied and their 
families should be discontinued ; except — 

(a) As to medical relief; and 
(6) Apprenticeship of children. 
No other exceptions should be made. " Where cases of 
real hardship occur, the remedy must be applied by individual 
charity, a virtue for which no system of compulsory relief can 
or ought to be a substitute." ^ " It appears to us that this pro- 
hibition " (of outdoor relief to the able-bodied) " should come 
into universal operation at the end of two years." ^ Mean- 
while, it was suggested — 

(a) That there should be a gradual substitution of relief 

in kind for money doles ; ^ 
(5) " That all who receive relief from the parish should 
work for the parish exclusively, as hard and for less 
wages than independent labourers work for in- 
dividual employers." * 
(c) That the able-bodied, even "of the best character," 
should not be offered "more than a simple sub- 
sistence. The person of bad character, if he be 
allowed anything, could not be allowed less." ^ 

1 p. 263 of Report of 1834. 2 p. 297 of Report of 1834. 

3 p. 298 of Report of 1834. 

* p. 262 of Report of 1834, made by way of comment as to the temporary 
policy. * p. 264 of Report of 1834. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 5 

That these recommendations had in view only the adult 
able-bodied person, capable of obtaining employment for wages, 
is supported by the explicit statement of the Commissioners 
that " the outdoor relief of which we have recommended the 
abolition is, in general, partial relief ... at variance with 
the spirit of the 43rd of Elizabeth, for the framers of that Act 
could scarcely have intended that the overseers should * take 
order for setting to work' those who have work and are 
engaged in work ; nor could they by the words * all persons 
using no ordinary and daily trade of life to get their living by ' 
have intended to describe persons ' who do use an ordinary 
and daily trade of life.' " ^ 

II. That the able-bodied should be offered maintenance 
in a workhouse. It is important to notice exactly what the 
Commissioners here proposed, with all the emphasis of large 
type. Eelief to the able-bodied and their families was to be 
" in well-regulated workhouses {i.e. places ivhere they may he set 
to work according to the spirit and intention of the ASrd of 
Elizabeth):' ^ 

These workhouses for the able-bodied were to be separate 
from the buildings in which the aged and the children were 
accommodated ; they were to be under separate officers ; and 
were expressly not to form part of one great establishment 
containing other classes of paupers.^ The character of the 
employment to be found for the able-bodied must also be noted, 
as the Commissioners made this a cardinal point. It will be 
remembered that the 43rd of Elizabeth directed that the over- 
seers should obtain " a convenient stock of flax, hemp, wool, 
and other necessaries for the poor to work upon," i.e. that they 
should " set the poor to work " on a normal productive 
enterprise. This principle is repeated and emphasised by the 
Commissioners. The employment to be found for the able- 
bodied " ought to be useful employment." Fictitious, artificial, 
or useless labour was " pernicious," and " ought to be care- 
fully prevented. . . . The association of the utility of labour 
to both parties, the employer as well as the employed, is 
one which we consider it most important to preserve 
and strengthen ; and ive deem everything mischievous which 

1 p. 262ofReportof 1834. 2 Uyj^. 

3 pp. 306-307 of Report of 1834. 



6 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

unnecessarily gives to it a repulsive aspect. At the same time 
we believe that in extended districts the requisite sources of 
employment will be easily found. The supply of the articles 
consumed in workhouses and prisons would afford a large 
outlet for the manufactures carried on in the House." ^ They 
even refer with approval to outdoor employment as possible in 
most districts. 

C. — Vagrants 

With regard to vagrants, the Commissioners were con- 
vinced that they would " cease to be a burden," if they were 
treated like the ordinary able-bodied pauper. The difficulty 
was to enforce this, and they therefore recommended that the 
Central Authority should " be empowered and directed to 
frame and enforce regulations as to the relief to be afforded to 
vagrants and discharged prisoners." ^ 

JD. — Women 

With regard to the treatment of women, it cannot be said 
that the Eeportof 1834 afforded much guidance to the Central 
Authority. Whether or not the Commissioners meant to pro- 
pose the abolition of outdoor relief to the legally independent 
able-bodied woman is, as we have shown, indeterminate. In 
this Eeport the single independent woman is nowhere men- 
tioned. The wife is throughout treated exactly as is the child ; 
and it is assumed that she follows her husband, both with 
regard to the continuance of outdoor relief to the aged, the 
impotent, and the sick; and with regard to its abolition in 
the case of the able-bodied. Such women as entered the 
workhouse were apparently to be regarded as divided into only 
two classes ; they were to be accommodated either in the building 
for " the aged and really impotent,** or else in the House for the 
" able-bodied females." ^ With regard to the really baffling 
problems presented by the widow, the deserted wife, the wife 
of the absentee soldier or sailor, the wife of a husband resident 
in another parish or another country — in each case whether 
with or without dependent children — the Eeport is silent. 

1 p. 324 of Report of 1834. 2 p. 340 of Report of 1834. 

3 p. 306 of Report of 1834. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 7 

To the class of mothers of illegitimate children the 
Commissioners devoted much attention. The almost universal 
practice had been for such mothers to receive outdoor relief, 
the amount of which the parish was supposed to attempt to 
recover from the putative fathers. "We do not find that the 
Eeport recommended any change in the method of relief 
of such paupers. Its proposal was, in effect, to put the 
mothers of illegitimate children in the same position as the 
widows with legitimate children. As already mentioned, the 
Commissioners nowhere state whether they recommend any 
change in the method of relief of such widows — unless, indeed, 
it could be argued that these women were to be included 
under the class of able-bodied. The revolutionary change 
which the Eeport proposed with regard to bastardy dealt 
with chargeability, not methods of relief The Commissioners 
strongly recommended the exemption of the putative father 
from any legal obligation to reimburse the parish. " If," 
say the Commissioners, "our previous recommendations are 
adopted, a bastard will be, what Providence appears to have 
ordained that it should be, a burden on its mother, and 
where she cannot maintain it, on her parents." ^ 

E. — The, Children 

Apart from apprenticeship, the Eeport deals only in- 
cidentally with children. It is assumed throughout that 
children go with their parents, both with regard to the 
continuance of outdoor relief to the aged, impotent and sick, 
and with regard to its abolition in the case of the able- 
bodied. 

On one point the Eeport is emphatic and clear, namely, 
that, where children do enter the workhouse, they are to be 
accommodated in a separate building, under a separate super- 
intendent, in order that they may " be educated " by " a 
person properly qualified to act as a schoolmaster." ^ 

With regard to apprenticeship, all that the Eeport 
does is — 

(1) Expressly to except relief by way of apprenticeship 

1 p. 350 of Report of 1834. 2 p, 307 of Report of 1834. 



8 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

from its proposal to abolish outdoor relief to the 
able-bodied parent.^ 
(2) To recommend that the Central Authority should 
"be empowered to make such regulations" as it 
might think fit ; and subsequently " to make a 
special inquiry" into the subject.^ 

F. — The Sick 

In contradistinction to the revolutionary proposals of the 
Eeport of 1834 with regard to the able-bodied, it is extra- 
ordinary that it suggested absolutely no change with regard 
to the sick. The current practice was, in nearly every case, 
to deal with the sick by outdoor relief, with or without medical 
attendance.^ The Eeport contains no suggestion for any 
alteration in this respect. When the Commissioners came to 
sketch out the classification of their proposed workhouse 
institutions, they did not include anything in the nature 
of a hospital.'* This explains why the Eeport of 1834 does 
not mention any provision for indoor medical officers. Even 
when dealing with the able-bodied and their families, the 
Commissioners explicitly except medical attendance from their 
proposed abolition of outdoor relief.^ 

This omission of anything in the nature of proposals for 
indoor relief for the sick becomes the more significant when 
we notice that the Commissioners do allude with approval to 
a possible extension of institutional treatment for certain 
classes of defectives, such as lunatics and the blind.^ 

G. — The Aged and Impotent {or Infirm) 

An almost similar absence of proposals is to be noted 
; with regard to the aged and impotent. The current practice 
■ was to deal with these cases, as a rule, by outdoor relief On 
this the Commissioners observe merely that "the outdoor 
relief to the impotent (using that word as comprehending all 
except the able-bodied and their families) is subject to less 
abuse. . . . No use can be made of the labour of the aged 

» p. 262 of Report of 1834. 2 p. 333 of Report of 1834. 

3 p. 43 of Report of 1834. * pp. 306-307 of Report of 1834. 

fi p. 262 of Report of 1834. « p. 307 of Report of 1834. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 9 

and sick, and there is little room for jobbing if their pensions 
are paid in money. Accordingly, we find that even in places 
distinguished in general by the most wanton parochial pro- 
fusion, the allowances to the aged and infirm are moderate." ^ 
The Commissioners made no proposal that outdoor relief to 
the aged or impotent (or infirm) should be abolished, or even 
curtailed. 

Such " aged and really impotent " persons as were ac- 
commodated in the workhouse were to have a separate 
building to themselves, under a separate superintendent ; 
expressly in order that "the old might enjoy their 
indulgences." ^ 

Passing now to those proposals of the Report which affected 
paupers generally, these concern the organisation of the work- 
house, emigration and relief on loan. 

H. — The, Workhouse 

With regard to the workhouse, the whole emphasis of the 
Report is upon classification of the inmates according to their 
needs ; and classification, not in separate parts of one building, 
but by the allocation to separate classes of entirely distinct 
buildings in order that there might be separate and differing 
treatment under distinct management. 

The Commissioners state that " at least four classes are 
necessary : — 

1. The aged and really impotent. 

2. The children. ^ 

3. The able-bodied females. 

4. The able-bodied males. 

" Of whom we trust the two latter will be the least 
numerous classes. It appears to us that both the requisite 
classification and the requisite superintendence may be better 
obtained in separate buildings than under a single roof" ^ 
The Commissioners were insistent that the treatment measured 
out to each class should differ according to its requirements, 
and " each class might thus receive an appropriate treatment ; 
the old might enjoy their indtdgences without torment from the 

1 pp. 42-43 of Report of 1834, 2 p. 397 of Report of 1834. 

3 p. 306 of Report of 1834. 



lo ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

boisterous ; the children be educated ; and the able-bodied 
subjected to such courses of labour and discipline as will 
repel the indolent and vicious."^ The need for separate 
buildings, under entirely different kinds of officers, with 
different qualifications, at different rates of payments — in 
contradistinction to one large building under a single officer 
— is emphasised again and again at different parts of the 
Report.^ It was, indeed, largely in order to provide these 
specialised institutions that the Commissioners recommended 
the formation of unions, it being made a cardinal principle 
that the Central Authority should " assign " to the various 
existing workhouses thus coming under one board of guardians 
" separate classes of poor." ^ 

It is interesting to notice that, apart from this cardinal 
principle of classification by separate and specialised buildings, 
practically the only recommendations relating to the organisa- 
tion of the workhouse, which are to be found in the Eeport, 
relate either to the character of the employment to be pro- 
vided in the buildings set aside for the able-bodied — which, as 
we have seen, was expressly to be of a normal productive 
character, free from repellent characteristics — or to the enact- 
ment of a maximum diet (and no minimum). "The Com- 
missioners should be empowered to fix a maximum of the 
consumption per head within the workhouses, leaving to the 
local officers the liberty of reducing it below the maximum if 
they can safely do so." * 

/. — Emigration 

Without laying much stress upon emigration, the Eeport 
recommends that any vestry should be empowered to pay 
for it out of the poor rate, in the case of persons (apparently 
whether paupers or not) having settlements in the parish and 
willing to emigrate.^ 

J. — Relief on Loan 
The Commissioners recommended " that under regulations 

» p. 307 of Report of 1834. 

2 See pp. 305, 306, 307, 313-314 of Report of 1834. 

3 p. 314 of Report of 1834. * p. 298 of Report of 1834. 
5 p. 357 of Report of 1834. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 11 

to be framed. . . . parishes be empowered to treat any relief 
afforded to the able-bodied, or to their families, and any ex- 
penditure in the workhouses, or otherwise incurred on their 
account, as a loan," to be legally recoverable. It is to be noted 
that this proposal is expressly limited to the " able-bodied or 
to their families." No definition, as usual, is given of the term 
able-bodied.^ 

K. — The Principles 0/ 1834 

To sum up the principles of administration recommended 
for adoption in the Eeport of 1834, omitting minor recommenda- 
tions and incidental qualifications, they resolve themselves into 
three. The Principle of National Uniformity required that 
the relief afforded to each class of paupers should be uniform 
throughout the kingdom. The Principle of Less Eligibility 
demanded that the conditions of existence afforded by the 
relief should be less eligible to the applicant than those of 
the lowest grade of independent labourers. The Workhouse 
System was recommended on the assumption that it was 
the only means by which the Principle of Less Eligibility 
could be in practice enforced. The two latter principles were 
applied explicitly only to the able-bodied and their families. 
To them (but to them only) any other form of relief ought, 
it was urged, to be made unlawful 

The Act of 1834 and its Amendments 

The marked feature of this period is the paucity of statutory 
enactment affecting relief. Only four statutes^ contain any 
provisions on the subject (apart from administrative detail), 
and these provisions are almost entirely mere enabling 
clauses, permitting the Central Authority to make such rules 
as it thinks fit, subject to a few specified exceptions. We can 
extract from these exiguous provisions nothing in the nature 
of a policy imposed by Parliament on the Central Authority. 
As already mentioned, it was assumed that the Central 

1 p. 337 of Report of 1834. 

2 4 & 5 "Will. IV. c. 76, quoted as the Act of 1834 ; 5 & 6 Vic. c. 57, 
quoted as the Act of 1842 ; 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, quoted as the Act of 1844 ; 
10 aud 11 Vic. c. 109, quoted as the Act of 1847. 



12 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Authority would put into execution the proposals of the 
Keport of 1834, Parliament contented itself with giving 
the Central Authority wide powers and almost unfettered 
discretion in the use of them. 



A. — National Uniformity 

Prior to 1834 there were many authorities legally entitled 
to order relief from the rates. The Act of 1834 made for 
national uniformity by confining this power, subject to certain 
exceptions as regards special classes, to the boards of guardians 
when formed ; and until these were formed, to the select 
vestries or bodies formed under local Acts ; to the exclusion, 
in these places, of the Justices of the Peace and the overseers. 
The new relief-giving local authorities were made subject to 
the control of a Central Authority, to be exercised by rules 
having the force of law. 

Two of the great classes of relief were singled out for 
special reference in the Act. The Central Authority was 
expressly empowered to make "rules, orders and regula- 
tions to be observed and enforced at every workhouse."-^ The 
Central Authority was also expressly empowered to make 
rules, etc., to regulate the relief of the able-bodied and their 
families."^ With regard to all other classes of paupers {e.g. 
the aged and impotent ; orphan and deserted children ; widows 
and deserted wives, with their children; and the sick — 
unless any of these can be supposed to have been included 
by Parliament under the term able-bodied) the Central 
Authority had general powers only ; the administration of all 
poor relief was made subject to its direction and control ; and 
it was empowered and directed " to make rules for the 
management of the poor, the government of workhouses and 
the education of the children therein ... for the appren- 
ticing the children of poor persons ; and for the guidance and 
control of all guardians, vestries and parish officers so far as 
relates to the management or relief of the poor." ^ 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 42. 2 nm. sec, 52. 

3 Ihid. sec. 15. 



4 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 13 

B. — Tlie AUe-Bodied 

It was expressly provided that relief to the able-bodied 
should be given only in accordance with the rules of the 
Central Authority. These rules might be of any kind, in- 
cluding (subject to exceptions) a total prohibition, then or at 
any future time. In the special preamble to this section. 
Parliament pointed to the difficulty of " an immediate and 
universal remedy " — doubtless referring to the proposal of the 
Eeport of 1834 that all such relief should be prohibited 
within two years. But Parliament gave no direction for 
prohibition, nor did it expressly limit the discretion of the 
Central Authority on the subject, beyond certain specified 
exceptions. These exceptions were (1) that complete discre- 
tion was reserved to the board of guardians so far as regarded 
the grant of food, temporary lodging or medicine " in cases of 
emergency," subject only to reporting their action to the 
Central Authority ; and also, subject to the approval of the 
Central Authority, so far as regarded the grant of money 
or other relief in such cases ; ^ (2) that in cases of " sudden 
and urgent necessity " the overseer was required to give " such 
temporary relief as each case shall require in articles of 
absolute necessity but not in money"; ^ and (3) that any 
Justice might order medical relief in case of "sudden and 
dangerous illness" and relief in certain cases to non- 
parishioners.^ 

As in the Eeport itself, no definition is given in the Act 
of what was meant by " able-bodied persons." In the special 
preamble, however, prefixed to this section, it is recited that 
it is enacted in consequence of the prevalent practice of giving 
relief " to persons or their families who, at the time of apply- 
ing for or receiving such relief, were wholly or partially in 
the employment of individuals." * 

C. — Vagrants 

The Act of 1834 is silent with regard to vagrants, in 
accordance with the proposal of the Eeport of 1834 that 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec, 52. 2 /j/^, gee. 54. 

3 Ihid. * Ibid. sec. 52. 



14 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

those destitute persons who had hitherto been deemed vagrants 
should be dealt with simply as other destitute persons. 
It may, however, be noted that express provision was made 
to enable any one Justice to order temporary relief in kind 
to persons not settled in nor usually residing in the parish, 
in cases of urgent necessity, in which the overseer had refused 
relief.^ 

In 1842, however, it was enacted that the local authority 
might " prescribe a task of work to be done by any person 
relieved in any workhouse in return for the food and lodging 
afforded to such person," and (implicitly) might detain such 
person until the task was done ; but such detention was not 
to exceed four hours after breakfast on the day following 
admission. Kefusal or neglect to perform such task, or wilful 
damage to property, subjected the person to be deemed 
an idle and disorderly person within the meaning of the 
Vagrancy Act of 1824. This section is not expressly con- 
fined to wandering persons, but the marginal note confines it 
to the " occasional poor." ^ 

In 1844 the Central Authority was empowered to 
combine parishes, in London and five other large towns, into 
districts for the provision of Asylums for Houseless Poor, that 
is to say, "asylums for the temporary relief and setting to 
work therein of destitute houseless poor " ; to constitute 
Boards for such districts ; with the consent of such Boards, 
to direct the establishment of such asylums, at the expense 
of the poor rates of such districts, up to a maximum of 
one-fifth of their whole Poor Law expenditure ; and to make 
rules, etc., for such asylums, subject to a conscience clause 
and to facilities for entry by ministers of different denomina- 
tions.^ These Asylums for Houseless Poor were to be mildly 
penal establishments, supplementary to the workhouses, and 
involving detention for a term not exceeding four hours 
after breakfast on the day after admission ; or, in the case 
of a person subjected to punishment for an offence com- 
mitted during his stay, for any period up to twenty -four 
hours.* -i 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 54. 25^6 Vic. e. 57, sec. 5. 

3 7 & 8 Vie. c. 101, sees. 41 to 56. * Hid. sec. 53. 



1. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 15 

D. — Women 

As in the Eeport of 1834, so in the Act of 1834, women 
do not appear as a class. It is assumed that married women 
follow their husbands, either with regard to the continuance 
of outdoor relief to the aged, the impotent and the sick; or 
with regard to its regulation or prohibition in the case of the 
able-bodied. 

It is, as we have shown, difficult to infer that the term 
" able-bodied " was meant to include any but persons ordinarily 
in employment at wages, or capable of such employment. 
Whether or not Parliament had in contemplation under this 
term even the adult independent woman without encumbrances 
seems to us doubtful. It is practically clear that the term 
was not intended by Parliament to apply to the widow, 
however able-bodied in the ordinary sense, nor to the deserted 
wife, the wife of the absentee sailor or soldier, or the wife 
of a husband resident in another parish or another country, 
if any of these were encumbered with young children, and so did 
not fall under the class of persons actually or potentially in 
employment at wages, cited in the preamble to the section 
dealing with the able-bodied.-^ If this is so, we can only infer 
from the Act, as from the Eeport, that no change in practice 
was then suggested. With regard to such women, at least, 
the discretion of the Central Authority in its " direction and 
control " of poor relief, and its " management of the poor," 
and its power to make rules "for the guidance and control 
of " the local authority " so far as relates to the management 
or relief of the poor," was unfettered.^ 

The fact that widows were not considered by Parliament 
to be included within the term " able-bodied persons and their 
families" may further be inferred from a section in the 1844 
Act. This provided that the wife of a husband either (a) 
beyond the seas, (&) in the custody of the law, or (c) confined 
as a lunatic or idiot, should, notwithstanding her coverture, 
be treated for purposes of relief, as if she were a widow} This 
implies that a widow was not regarded as subject to the 
conditions of relief to " able-bodied persons and their families." 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 52. 2 jHcL^ ggc. 15. 

3 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, sec. 25. 



l6 ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 

It may be noted that relief to the child under sixteen of 
a widow was to be deemed relief to the mother ; ^ and relief 
to an illegitimate child under sixteen was to be deemed relief 
to the mother so long as she remained unmarried or a widow.^ 
Another section of the 1844 Act allowed a widow having a 
legitimate child dependent on her, and no illegitimate children, 
who at her husband's death was residing with him in a place 
where she had no settlement, to be granted non-resident 
relief.^ 

E. — Children 

With certain insignificant exceptions hereinafter noticed, 
the only provisions with regard to children as such in the 
1834 Act relate to children in the workhouse. The Central 
Authority was directed to make rules, etc., " for the education 
of the children " in the workhouse.* It was specially enacted 
that no child in a workhouse was to be educated in any 
creed other than that of his parent, or, if orphaned, " to 
which his godparents may object." Facilities for free entry of 
ministers of the child's own persuasion were to be accorded.^ 

In 1844 the Central Authority was expressly empowered 
at its discretion to combine parishes (within fifteen miles) into 
school districts, and to constitute boards for such school 
districts ; and, subject to the consent of a majority of such 
a board, to direct the establishment of district schools at the 
cost of the poor rates of the district, up to a maximum of one- 
fifth of the total Poor Law expenditure of the district.^ 

The Central Authority was empowered to make rules for 
such schools, it being, however, expressly enacted : (1) that 
an Anglican chaplain was always to be appointed ; (2) that 
facilities for visits by ministers of other denominations were 
to be given ; and (3) a conscience clause was inserted.'^ Such 
district schools were to be for the accommodation of pauper 
children under sixteen, either orphans, deserted, or having 
parents who consented,^ including such children from parishes 
outside the district.^ 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 56. 2 m^, gee. 71. 

3 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, sec. 26. * 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 15. 

6 lUd. sec. 19. 6 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, sees. 40, 42-44. 

f Ibid. sec. 43. ^ jud, sec. 40. » Ibid. sec. 51. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 17 

With regard to apprenticeship the law remained at first 
unchanged, except that the Act of 1834 empowered the 
Central Authority to make regulations (in significant phrase) 
" for the apprenticing the children of poor persons " ^ in the 
execution of the then existing law. This applied, not to those 
who were destitute or who applied for relief, but to " the 
children of all such whose parents shall not, by the . . . 
churchwardens and overseers, or the greater part of them, 
5e thouglit ahle to keep and maintain their children." ^ 

In 1835, the Merchant Shipping Act incidentally author- 
ised local authorities to apprentice boys over thirteen, with their 
own consent, to the mercantile marine, whatever the distance 
of the port or address of the shipmaster ; to pay a premium of 
£5 ; and to convey the boy to his new master by a constable.^ 

In 1842 the Parish Apprentices Act made it clear that 
all the previous Acts applied also to cases in which no 
premium had been paid.^ 

But the first substantive alteration of the law was made 
in 1844, when the Central Authority was expressly empowered 
to make regulations prescribing the duties of masters and the 
other conditions of apprenticeship ; the power of apprenticing 
was confined to the boards of guardians ; and the former com- 
pulsory obligation on householders to receive apprentices 
was abolished.^ The class of children to be apprenticed re- 
mained unchanged.^ 



F. — The Sick 

Parliament made no enactment with regard to the sick 
as a class ; did not therefore seek to interfere with the existing 
practice under which the sick usually received outdoor relief; 
and did not even empower the Central Authority to make any 
regulations for the relief of the sick as such, except in so far 
as they were either inmates of workhouses or belonged to the 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sees. 15 and 61. 

2 43 Eliz. c. 2, sec. 1 ; 18 George III. c. 47, preamble ; 56 George III. 
c. 139. 

3 5 & 6 William IV. c. 19, sees. 26, 29. < 5 & 6 Vict. c. 7. 
5 7 & 8 Vict. c. 101, sees. 12, 13. 

^ There was a provision (since repealed), in sec. 15 of the Act of 1834, 
•which we need not notice, as to making rules for the management of parish 
poor children under Hanway's Act (7 George III. c. 39), since repealed, 

C 



/ 



i8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

indeterminate class of the " able-bodied and their families." 
Its only power in this connection lay in the general words 
placing the administration of all relief under its direction and 
control, and in the general authority to make rules, etc., for 
the guidance and control of local officers as far as related to 
the management or relief of the poor.^ 

The only provision relating to the sick as such was an 
express sanction of the existing power of any Justice to order 
medical relief in cases of sudden and dangerous illness with- 
out any restriction whatever.^ 

With regard to lunatics, the only provision was one in 
1838, that the Justices might commit a dangerous or criminal 
lunatic to an asylum, at the cost of the Poor Eate.^ 

We may note a provision, declaring that relief to a blind 
or deaf and dumb wife or child under sixteen should not be 
deemed relief to the husband or the parent.* This apparently 
prevented these (together with their husbands or parents), from 
falling into the class of the " able-bodied and their families." 



"O 



G. — The Aged and Impotent 

The only provision relating to the aged and impotent as 
such was the express retention of the Justices' power to order 
outdoor relief without limit of amount or period. This was 
made subject to the conditions that the person should be 
(1) wholly unable to work, (2) entitled to relief in the union, 
and (3) desirous of outdoor relief; and that (4) the order 
should be given by two Justices " usually acting for the dis- 
trict," one of whom had satisfied himself of his own knowledge 
that the conditions were fulfilled.^ 



H. — The WorJchouse 

The conditions and character of the relief to be afforded 
by admission to the workhouse were to be subject to rules 
etc., which the Central Authority was empowered and directed 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 15. 2 jOf^,^ c. 54. 

3 Criminal Lunatics Act, 1838, 1 & 2 Vict. c. 14, sec. 2. 

< 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 56. & Ibid. sec. 27. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1834 19 

to make.^ The power of the Central Authority was subject 
to an important limitation. Any order for the building of 
a new workhouse was made conditional on obtaining the 
consent either of a majority of the guardians or of a majority 
of the ratepayers and owners.^ The Central Authority could, 
however, without such consent, order the local authority " to 
enlarge or alter " any existing workhouse or building capable 
of being converted into a workhouse up to a limit of £50 or 
one-tenth of the average Poor Eate for the past three years.^ 
Moreover, the local authority was not to expend on the 
building, alteration or enlargement of any particular work- 
house (whether by way of loan or out of rate) more than the 
annual average of the poor rate during the three preceding 
years.* These limitations were removed, so far as regards 
the cost of sites in the Metropolitan Police District and 
the parish of Liverpool, in 1844.^ It was also expressly 
provided that no person was to introduce alcoholic liquor 
into a workhouse without the written order of the master, 
under penalty of a fine not exceeding £10 ; nor was the 
master to do so save for domestic use of the officers, except 
in conformity with the rules.^ Confinement beyond twenty- 
four hours, and the corporal punishment of adults, were ex- 
pressly forbidden.'^ Notices of the law on these subjects were 
to be publicly displayed.^ A conscience clause protected 
workhouse inmates, and they had also the right to receive 
visits by religious ministers of their own persuasions.^ 

I. — Emigration 

The Act carried out the proposal of the Eeport, by 
enabling the ratepayers (including rated owners) to emigrate, 
at the expense of the poor rates, with the approval of the Central 
Authority, " poor persons " having settlements in the parish 
whether paupers or not.-^*^ 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sees. 15, 42. 2 lUd. sec. 23. 

3 Ihid. sec. 25. * Hid. sec. 24. " 7 & 8 Vict. c. 101, sec. 30, 

6 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sees. 92, 93. " Ihid. sec. 93. 

8 Ihid. sec. 94. » Ihid. sec. 19. 10 Ibid. sec. 62. 



20 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

J. — Belief on Loan 

It was enacted that any relief that the Central Authority 
might declare or direct to be by way of loan should be legally 
recoverable by the local authority, even by attachment of 
wages.^ 

Five years later the local authority was given power to 
attach Army and Navy pensions, in repayment of the cost 
of relief, even without such relief having been declared to be 
on loan.^ 

^ 4 & 5 William IV. sees. 58, 59, 
« Pensions Act, 1839, 2 & 3 Vict. c. 51, sec. 2. 



CHAPTEE II 

THE POOR LAW COMMISSIONERS 

It had, as we have seen, been left to the Poor Law Com- 
missioners to formulate their own policy, with the guidance 
of the Report of 1834. This policy is, during the ensuing 
thirteen years, to be found in (1) the orders issued under the 
Act of 1834 and subsequent statutes; (2) the circulars 
and other explanatory or instructional communications to the 
local authorities, inspectors, auditors, etc., and (3) the reports 
to Parliament. 

Under the term " order," we include, as is customary, all 
the " rules, orders, and regulations " issued in pursuance of 
statutory powers. With whatever parts of poor relief these 
dealt, they had the force of law ; either under the specific 
powers relating to workhouses,^ or relief to the able-bodied,^ 
or under the general powers authorising the Poor Law Com- 
missioners to make " rules, orders, and regulations for 

the guidance and control of all guardians, vestries, and parish 
officers so far as relates to the management or relief of the 
poor."^ According to the Act of 1834 some of these orders 
were to be " General Rules," and were not to take effect until 
they had been submitted to a Secretary of State, and by him 
laid before Parliament for forty days ; and they were disallow- 
able by the Privy Council.* A " General Rule " was to be 
" any rule . . . which shall, at the time of issuing the same, 
be addressed ... to more than one union or to more parishes 
and places than one." ^ Other orders, known first as " Par- 
ticular Orders," and subsequently as " Special Orders," and now 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 42. 2 /j;,;. gee. 52. 

3 lUd. sec. 15. * Ihid. sees. 16, 17. * Ibid. sec. 109. 

21 



22 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

simply as " Orders," were subject to no such conditions. There 
was, however, no distinction between them as to validity, 
force of law, or sanction. It was . therefore open to the Poor 
Law Commissioners to issue all its orders as particular or 
special orders by addressing them successively to separate 
unions or parishes, even if they were identical in their terms. 
For reasons explained in the Poor Law Commissioners' Eeport 
on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, this was 
the course adopted.^ No general order was issued prior to 
1841. 

With circulars so-called we include all explanatory or 
instructional communications to local authorities or to the 
officers of central or local authorities, or to Parliament. These, 
though embodying the policy of the Central Authority, had 
not the force of law. Moreover, as they were issued for 
particular emergencies, and were never withdrawn or expressly 
abrogated, th&y — unlike any unrepealed orders — must not he 
considered as necessarily laying down general policy for all time. 
Subject to consideration of this limitation, we propose to 
include the circulars, letters, etc., along with the general and 
special orders, in our analysis of the policy laid down for each 
of the several classes of destitute persons. 

A. — The Alle-Bodicd 

(i.) On Outdoor Relief 

The ambiguity that existed, alike in the Eeport and in 
the Act of 1834, as to the meaning intended to be given to 
the term "the able-bodied" was, to a large extent, reflected 
in those documents of the Central Authority which expounded 
its policy with regard to the kind and conditions of relief to 
be given to this class. Once more there is no definition of the 
term able-bodied, which is used sometimes as an adjective 
and sometimes as a substantive. From the context it must 
be inferred, as we shall presently show, that the term is used 
in different senses in the orders relating respectively to 
outdoor relief and to the management of the workhouse. 
What proved in the event more inimical to the principle of 
1 Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, pp. 32-34. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 23 

National Uniformity was the fact that in the orders relating 
to outdoor relief to the able-bodied, there was no consistency 
as to whether any class of women was or was not to be 
included among the able-bodied. There are, as we shall 
presently describe, two distinct streams of regulations affecting 
outdoor relief to the able-bodied, one permitting such relief 
under conditions, culminating in the Outdoor Eelief Eegulation 
Order of 14th December, 1852 (still in force), and the other 
prohibiting it subject to exceptions, culminating in the Out- 
door Eelief Prohibitory Order of 21st December, 1844 (still 
in force). In the former series of regulations, beginning with 
the first orders issued in the autumn of 1834 to particular 
unions, the term "able-bodied" is expressly qualified hy the 
adjective " male " (" able-bodied male persons ")} In the other 
series, beginning in 1836 with the Consolidated Order for 
the Administration of Eelief in Town Unions, the category 
of the " able-bodied," if we are to go hy the actual wording of 
the orders, clearly comprises both sexes; at first by excepting 
widows only from a universal rule, and presently by specifically 
including " every able - bodied " person, " 7nale or female." ^ 
That this differing interpretation of the category of the " able- 
bodied and their families " was actually intended by the 
Central Authority in 1840, and 1844, and that it was not 
merely accidental, is shown by cases in which it was decided 
that outdoor relief to single women having illegitimate children 
was illegal, as being in contravention of the Outdoor Eelief 
Prohibitory Order in force in those unions ; ^ thus proving 
that, under this order, the category of " the able-bodied and 
their families " included independent women with children ; 
although in the other kind of orders, contemporaneous in date, 
the same category included men only (and their families). This 
is the more puzzling, in that we find the Central Authority, in 
1839 at least, regarding these very outdoor relief prohibitory 

1 See for instance the Order of 31st December, 1834, issued to Sutton 
Courtney Parish, now included in Abingdon Union, and the Outdoor Relief 
Regulation Order, 14th December 1852, art. 1. 

^ See Consolidated Order for the Administi-atiou of Relief in Town Unions, 
7th March 1836, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 92 ; the Order of 26th 
April 1839, to Aston Union; and Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, 21st 
December 1844, art. 1. 

3 Officml Circular, No. 1, p. 8, 8th January 1840 ; Ibid. No. 34, p. 79, 
30th April 1844. 



24 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

orders as practically, if not literally, applicable only to able- 
bodied males. In the comprehensive defence of its action, 
when pleading for a renewal of the Act, the Central Authority 
expressly describes these orders as "prohibiting outdoor relief 
to able-bodied male paupers" ; and as having attained the object 
aimed at, that of destroying the allowance system or relief in 
aid of wages, "so far as respects able-bodied male paicpers and 
their families." ^ 

To sum up this question of definition, in one series of 
outdoor relief regulations applicable to the able-bodied, in 
force in certain unions, the category of " the able-bodied " 
expressly excludes independent women ; in another series of 
regulations, in force in other unions, the category of " the able- 
bodied " includes such women. There is actual evidence that 
the Central Authority enforced these differing determinations 
so far as to include as among " the able-bodied " unmarried 
women having illegitimate children in those unions in which 
one set of Orders was in force. Whether it ever actually 
enforced this interpretation as regards single women without 
children is not apparent in the published documents, but 
would be seen from its records. The fact of variance between 
the two interpretations of the category of " the able-bodied " 
becomes important when the two series of regulations are 
consolidated into two orders embodying distinct policies, one or 
other of which is made applicable to every union in the country. 

Once having determined what was included in the category 
of " the able-bodied," the ground becomes more clear. With 
regard to outdoor relief, there are the two streams of con- 
temporaneous regulations already alluded to — the one per- 
mitting it subject to conditions, the other prohibiting it subject 
to exceptions. 

The first series was, it is clear, regarded (at any rate down 
to 1842) as temporary, only "to be sanctioned as a palliative 
for a time, and until adequate and efficient workhouse 
accommodation shall be provided." ^ These regulations were, 
in the autumn of 1834, issued separately to certain unions 

1 p. 62 of Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839. 

2 See the "Suggestions as to the most eligible modes of Providing Outdoor 
Employment .... in cases where there is not an efficient workhouse, and pre- 
paratory to the establishment of the Workhouse System," p. 45 of Second 
Annual Report, 1836. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 25 

pending the introduction of " proper regulations " ; ^ but we 
also find them, between 1835 and 1842, included as a 
matter of course in orders prohibiting outdoor relief, by way of 
exception, but still only as providing a temporary alternative, 
until accommodation can be obtained for the reception of such 
persons in the workhouse.^ 

There was even a third series of Orders, which may 
perhaps be regarded as even more provisional and temporary 
than the first series. To various local authorities in large 
towns (such as Norwich), and in the Metropolitan parishes, 
Orders were issued from 1835 onwards, simply requiring that 
any outdoor relief to the able-bodied should be, to the extent 
of one-third ^ — sometimes to the extent of one-half ^ — " relief in 
kind," that is to say, in loaves of bread.^ 

1 Circular, 8tli November 1834, p. 73 of First Annual Report, 1835. 

^ Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v., art. 27, p. 92 of Second Annual Report, 1836. 

^ Poor Law Commissioners to Norwich Court of Guardians, 25th July 1835 ; 
Special Order to Norwich, 29th July 1835 ; MS. Minutes, Norwich Court of 
Guardians, July and August 1835. 

* Special Order to Norwich, 21st October 1835 ; Poor Law Commissioners 
to Norwich Court of Guardians, 21st October 1835 ; MS. Minutes, Norwich 
Court of Guardians, October 1835. 

^ This term. Relief in Kind, has always been limited to food, though the 
character of the food has been varied. Medicine and "medical extras" 
supplied to the paupers in their homes have been included in the term Out- 
door Medical Relief. The provision of clothing and bedding to the outdoor 
poor — classed as ordinary Outdoor Relief — though permitted, has never been 
encouraged by the Central Authority. {Official Circular, 10th November 
1840, No. 9, p. 117; Ihid., July 1850, No. 39 N.S., p. 108; see also 
Selections from the Coi-respondciice of the Local Government Board, vol. ii., 
1880, p. 71.) The provision of tools or implements of trade was considered not 
to be of the nature of relief, and therefore not legal. It was expressly 
prohibited by the Outdoor Relief Regulation Order of 1852 (art. 3). Pay- 
ment of rent (except the provision of temporary lodging in urgent and sudden 
necessity, or for housing a lunatic) was from the outset strictly prohibited. 
{See Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order of 1844, art. 5, and Outdoor Relief 
Regulation Order of 1852, art. 3.) This prohibition of payment of rent 
seems to have been considered of importance by the Poor Law Commissioners. 
The impracticability of preventing ordinary outdoor relief from being applied in 
paj'ment of the pauper's rent seems only gi-adually to have dawned upon 
the Poor Law Board. In 1852 it was explained that although the Order 
"prohibits the Guardians from paying the rent for a pauper either directly 
or indirectly, it does not prevent them from allowing him sucli relief as under 
all the circumstances of the case his necessities may require ; it will rest with 
the pauper to dispose of the relief afforded to him in such manner as he may 
think fit." (Poor Law Board to Hemsworth Union, 19th October 1852 ; in 
House of Commons, No. Ill of 1852-3, p. 96.) A similar decision was given in 
1902. {^e,Q Local Government Chronicle, 9th August 1902, p. 805.) The prohibi- 
tion still remains in force, but is accordingly not now regarded as of importance. 



26 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

It has been assumed that it was the intention of the 
Central Authority from the outset to replace these temporary 
orders permitting outdoor relief to the able-bodied by some 
permanent injunction substituting relief in the workhouse as 
the only method. But the documentary evidence indicates that 
the Central Authority either never entertained the idea — or else 
very quickly abandoned it — of issuing the Prohibitory Order to 
the manufacturing towns of the north. Thus, in October 1836, 
after nearly two years' experience, the Poor Law Commissioners, 
as their Assistant Commissioner reported, were disposed to leave 
" the contemplated workhouse system . . . very much to the 
board of guardians, and they did not feel it necessary to lay 
down those strict rules that they had in some instances laid 
down for the government of unions in the south of England." ^ 

In 1842 the Central Authority, perhaps unwittingly, took 
a new departure. In the northern counties there were districts 
for which no orders " concerning the outdoor relief of the able- 
bodied " had been issued. The Central Authority had failed 
to induce the Local Authorities to provide " adequate work- 
house accommodation," and it was found that " large numbers 
of able-bodied persons are often suddenly thrown out of 
employment by the fluctuations of manufacturers " {sic)? To 
meet this situation, a new General Order was issued (the Out- 
door Labour Test Order, 13th April 1842); on the ground 
that it was impracticable " to issue the Order prohibiting out- 
door relief to able-bodied persons." ^ This order is historically 
of twofold significance. It has had, as will subsequently 
appear, a long and continuous career of its own, in force in 
combination with the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order in 
particular unions.^ But between 1842 and 1852, standing 
by itself in other unions,^ it was the temporary embodiment 

1 MS. Minutes, Newcastle Board of Guardians, 7tli October 1836. 

2 Circular of 30th April 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 179. 

3 Minute of Commissioners respecting the means of enforcing an Outdoor 
Labour Test, 31st October 1842, p. 381 of Ninth Annual Report, 1843. 

* For such Special Labour Test Orders, issued in supplement to the Out- 
relief Prohibitory Order, see those to Boston Union, of 3rd February 1847 ; 
Crediton Union, 21st May 1847 ; and Catherington Union, 2nd June 1847, 
which are in the most usual form ; or those to Foleshill Union, 13th December 
1847 ; Maldon Union, 7th December 1847 ; and Nuneaton Union, 13th 
December 1847, which are in a much shorter form, omitting the authority for 
the appointment of a superintendent of pauper labour. 

fi For such Special Labour Test Orders, issued to unions not under the Out- 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 27 

of an alternative policy of the Central Authority. This 
alternative policy was, in 1852, definitely adopted by the 
Outdoor Kelief Eegulation Order (still in force), as the one 
permanently appropriate for tlie circumstances of many unions, 
covering a large part of England and Wales. 

This policy of leaving to the discretion of the local 
authorities the grant of outdoor relief to the able-bodied on 
certain conditions was, as already mentioned, confined to 
men. We can find no explanation of, or reason for, the 
entire absence of any provision for independent women who 
were able-bodied. It can only be inferred that, in those dis- 
tricts, the Central Authority meant the unlimited discretion 
of the local authorities with regard to outdoor relief to able- 
bodied independent women to continue. The outdoor relief 
sanctioned for able-bodied men was strictly limited to persons 
who were not in employment for hire. This limitation was 
expressly intended to prevent the old " Rate in Aid of 
Wages." But it was subsequently expressly allowed that out- 
door relief might be given, in respect of the particular days 
in a week or the particular weeks in a month during which 
persons were unemployed, whilst they were in remunerative 
employment on other days of that week, or other weeks of that 
month.^ In the case of persons partially disabled, and able to 
earn only partial maintenance, the Poor Law Commissioners 
recommended that they " should be entirely supported by the 
guardians " — not, be it noted, by being admitted to the work- 
house — but either by their being " set to work by the guardians 
in such manner as may be suitable to their condition," or else by 
their being prohibited from doing any work on their own account.^ 

It should be said that (with an exception to be hereafter 
noted in the case of women) the Central Authority stood 
rigidly on the position taken up by the 1834 Eeport that no 
regard was to be paid to character, in judging applications for 
relief, " If a person," said the Poor Law Commissioners in 
1840, "be in a state of destitution, such person is to be 

relief Prohibitory Order, see that to Ash tou-under-Lyne Union, 29th March 1847 ; 
or that, in a shorter form, omitting the authority for the appointment of 
a superintendent of pauper labour, to Chertsey Union, I7th December 1847. 

^ Circular Letter, 14th December 1852, in Fifth Annual Eeport of Poor Law 
Board, 1852, p. 31. 

2 Special Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, p. 72. 



28 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

relieved, without reference to the moral character of such 
person. Eelief from the poor rates can only lawfully be 
given in cases where persons are destitute of the means of 
support. And the fact that the destitution may have been 
caused by the immorality or improvidence of the party who 
seeks to be relieved does not alter or vary the duty of 
guardians to administer relief proportional to the necessity of 
the case." ^ 

The outdoor relief, where given, had to be subject to two 
conditions. It was to be at least half in kind, and conditional 
on the recipient being set to work by the local authority, the 
time, mode and conditions of work being fixed by the Central 
Authority. 

With regard to the kinds and conditions of " parish work," 
it was repeatedly laid down by the Central Authority that 
none would be sanctioned unless (a) the work was " hard," not 
of a kind usually performed by independent labourers or 
competing with them, nor "much regarded as to profitable 
results," strictly supervised, " of a laborious and undesirable 
nature in itself," and " of such a nature as to discourage 
applications from all who are not really necessitous " ; (&) paid 
" less than would be paid for work of equal quantity if 
performed by independent labourers " ; ^ or as it was later 
stated, the payment "ought to assume the form of relief, not 
of wages. . . . , A single man or a man with a wife and one 
child ought not to receive as much as a man with a wife and 
eight children." ^ 

It is not explained how payment on the last principle 
could be made consistent with the former principles. 
But the intention of the Central Authority is clear. In 
the words quoted with approval in the circular of 1835, the 
parish was to be " the hardest taskmaster and the worst pay- 
master." * 

An important exception was made by a separate clause in 
the Order providing that the guardians might depart from any 
of these regulations in particular instances, and thus give 

'^ Poor Law Commissioners to Plymouth Board of Guardians, 25th April 1840. 

2 p. 45 of Second Annual Report, 1836 ; Official Circular, No. 29, p. 151, 
30th November 1843. 

3 Minute, 31st October 1842, p. 383 of Ninth Annual Report, 1843. 
^ p. 46 of Second Annual Report, 1836. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 29 

outdoor relief to able-bodied males on any conditions, subject 
to their reporting each such instance within fifteen days to 
the Central Authority, and obtaining its subsequent approval. 
With that approval, outdoor relief to able-bodied men, without 
any conditions, was lawful. The records of the Central 
Authority between 1842 and 1847, which have not been pub- 
lished, would show how frequently application was made for 
this approval, and whether the Central Authority pursued 
any definite policy in approving or disapproving the cases, 
or merely approved all that were reported to it. 

The second series of outdoor relief regulations, beginning 
with the Consolidated Order for the Administration of Belief 
in Town Unions of 1836, and culminating in the Outdoor 
Eelief Prohibitory Order of 1844 (still in force), proceeds on 
the basis of forbidding outdoor relief to the " able-bodied and 
their families." But from the outset we find a series of 
express exceptions made in particular Orders, gradually in- 
creasing in number and definiteness. The most numerous and 
the most important of these exceptions relate to women, and 
will be subsequently dealt with. For the male able-bodied 
person himself (and his family) only three exceptions were 
to be made. The local authority had discretion to allow 
him outdoor relief (a) in case of sudden and urgent neces- 
sity ; (6) in case of sickness, accident, or mental infirmity 
in his family; or (c) for the burial of any member of his 
family.^ 

Another series of exceptions allowed outdoor relief to the 
families of able-bodied persons (a) in gaol, or otherwise in 
custody ; (&) absent as soldiers, sailors or marines ; or (c) other- 
wise residing outside the union.^ 

A third exception empowered the local authorities (as in 
the analogous case of the Outdoor Labour Test Order) to 
depart from these regulations in any particular instance, and 
thus to give outdoor relief to the able-bodied, whether men, 
women, or their families, on any conditions, subject to their 
reporting each such instance within fifteen days to the 
Central Authority and obtaining its subsequent approval. 
With that approval outdoor relief to the able-bodied, without 

* See Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, 1844, art. 1. 
2 Ibid. 



30 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

any conditions, was lawful. The records of the Central 
Authority between 1842 and 1847 would show what policy 
it pursued in approving or disapproving the cases of 
unconditional outdoor relief to the able-bodied, which were 
reported by those local authorities to which this Order had 
been issued. What appears from the published documents is 
, that the Central Authority, between 1835 and 1842, "in 

cases where this Order had been issued had been 

obliged to sanction large exceptions to its provisions." ^ 

On this, among other grounds, the Central Authority in 
1843 took to modifying the operation of the Outdoor Eelief 
Prohibitory Orders by supplementing them, in certain of the 
unions in which they were in force, by an Outdoor Labour 
Order, practically identical in terms with the Outdoor Labour 
Test Order of 1842, which we have already mentioned as 
being alone in force in other unions.^ Similar Orders — in 
effect modifying the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order — have 
ever since continued to be issued to particular unions ; but, 
from 1852 onward, in the form of applying to the particular 
unions concerned the Outdoor Labour Test Order of 1842, 
which had theretofore been issued alone. 

We are now in a position to sum up the policy of the 
Central Authority, with regard to outdoor relief to the able- 
bodied, as it stood in 1847, embodied in documents applicable 
to three different parts of England and Wales. In thirty- 
two unions the Labour Test Order of 1842 was alone in force, 
whilst in twenty-nine others the regulations were essentially 
similar to this. In this part of the country the discretion 
of the local authorities to give outdoor relief to able-bodied 
independent women (as to other independent women) was 
unfettered by any regulation, and not directed by any 
instructions. Outdoor relief to able-bodied men and their 
families was within the discretion of the local authorities, if it 
was accompanied by test work by the man and subject to 
certain conditions. In other parts of the country, comprising 
396 unions, the Prohibitory Order was alone in force, and 
outdoor relief to the able-bodied, whether men or women, and 

1 Minute of Commissioners, 31st October 1842, p. 381 of Ninth Annual 
Report, 1843. 

2 p. 379 of Ninth Annual Report, 1843. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 31 

their families, was, with limited and precise exceptions, 
prohibited ; unless, in particular instances, the local authority 
subsequently reported it to, and got it sanctioned by, the 
Central Authority. In yet other parts of the country, 
comprising eighty-one unions, the Prohibitory Order and an 
Outdoor Labour Test Order were jointly in force, and outdoor 
relief to the able-bodied, whether men or women, and their 
families, was, so far as general rules went, prohibited. But such 
outdoor relief was lawful if it was in each case subsequently 
reported to, and approved by, the Central Authority ; 
with this difference between that given to able-bodied men 
(and their families) and that given to independent women 
(and their families) that the former had to be, and the latter 
had not to be, accompanied by test work. This requirement 
of test work by the man, in certain unions, as a condition of 
the outdoor relief to be thus sanctioned by the Central 
Authority, appears at first sight to impose on those unions 
an additional restriction on the grant of outdoor relief, as 
compared with those unions in which outdoor relief could be 
sanctioned by the Central Authority without test work. The 
practical result may have been exactly the opposite. The records 
of the Central Authority between 1843 and 1847 would show 
to what extent and in what kind of cases its sanction to these 
cases of outdoor relief was given or refused ; and whether, 
according to the statistics, it was not given more frequently 
and even as a matter of course, where test work was 
obligatory as a condition, as compared with cases in which 
test work was not required. If this was so, not only did 
union differ from union in the extent to which outdoor relief 
to the able-bodied was sanctioned by the Central Authority, 
but it may be that the statistics would show that in this respect, 
sex differed from sex — such outdoor relief beiug freely granted 
and lightly sanctioned to able-bodied men from whom test 
work was exacted ; and sanctioned with greater stringency in 
the case of the able-bodied independent women from whom 
no such test was exacted. 



32 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

(ii.) In the Worhhouse 

When " the able-bodied and their families " entered the 
workhouse, we find the Central Authority prescribing a 
classification altogether different from that applied to outdoor 
paupers. The very category of the " able-bodied and their 
families " disappears. It was, of course, inevitable that this 
should happen. In any institution, infants, boys, girls, sick 
and healthy adults, male and female, required different treat- 
ments. But, to the confusion of every one concerned, the 
Central Authority retained, for its workhouse classification, as 
for the entirely different classification of outdoor paupers, the 
same adjective of " able-bodied," without even explaining that 
it was here used in an altogether different sense. As usual 
in the documents of this period, there is no definition of the 
term. But whenever it occurs in the regulations affecting the 
workhouse, the term " able-bodied " was apparently intended by 
the Central Authority to denote all persons not being either 
children, " the aged and infirm," or " the aick." If the 
draughtsman of the Genera^ Consolidated Order of 1847 
had been aware of the need for a definition clause, he would 
presumably have said that in that Order the term " able- 
bodied " should denote those persons above the age of child- 
hood, and below that of " the aged," who for the time being 
were in the enjoyment of normal health. This class, it will 
be seen, differs considerably from that referred to in the 
preamble of the section in the 1834 Act under which outdoor 
relief to the able-bodied was to have been abolished ; namely, 
persons (with their families) "who at the time of applying for 
or receiving such relief were wholly or partially in the employ- 
ment of individuals." ^ The Act thus pointed to the capacity to 
obtain employment for hire, at any wages whatsoever, whatever 
may have been the state of health, as the essential characteristic 
of being " able-bodied." This, too, was the construction placed 
on the term when used in the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory 
Order, 1844, where the Central Authority expressly held that 
" poor persons who have frequent ailments, who are ruptured and 
are generally of weak constitutions " but who are " in receipt of 
wages " — however low such wages might be — must be treated^^ 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 52. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 33 

for outdoor relief, as being " able-bodied persons." ^ When 
such persons entered the workhouse, not merely would the 
several members of their families pass into different categories, 
but they themselves, if the doctor so decided, would, in the 
view of the Central Authority, on crossing the threshold, cease 
to be " able-bodied persons," — and become members of the 
diametrically opposite category of " the sick." If such persons, 
^\'ithout being cured, subsequently left the workhouse, we must 
infer that, according to the policy of the Central Authority, 
their characteristic of physical or mental infirmity ceased to 
be relevant, as they passed, on crossing the threshold, into the 
ranks of " able-bodied persons," 

Inside the workhouse, the " able-bodied " (in the workhouse 
sense) are divided simply into male and female. We can find 
no regulations specially affecting relief to them, as apart from 
other inmates of the establishment, except some modifications 
ill the amount of food allowed, or of labour exacted. As even 
these modifications are inextricably mixed up with the general 
regulations affecting all inmates, and are contained in the same 
long series of Orders, culminating in the General Consolidated 
Order of 1847, we relegate them to the subsequent section on 
the workhouse. 

B. — Vagrants 

^We have seen that the policy of the Eeport and Act of 
1834, with regard to vagrants, was to ignore them as a class, 
to relieve them only in the workhouse, and to deal with them 
exactly as with other workhouse inmates. / What the Central 
Authority seems to have contemplated was that the strict 
application of the " workhouse test " would not only prevent 
vagrants coming on the rates at all, but that it could be used 
to prevent almsgiving. It was apparently with this view that 
the Central Authority, in 1837, sanctioned a code of regula- 
tions for the admission to the workhouse of the " casual poor," 
meaning " wayfarers " or homeless " persons in a state of 
destitution . . . who . . . belonged to distant parishes." ^ 
These regulations included admission by tickets distributed by 
any ratepayer, and the performance of a task of work before 

1 Offijzial Circular, April and May 1848, Nos. 14 and 15, N.S., pp. 227-8. 

2 Letter, 6th September 1837, in Fourth Annual Report, 1838, p. 154. 

D 



34 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the grant of a meal.^ In diet, discipline, and other treatment, 
they were to be dealt with " as the other paupers in the work- 
house." ^ In other unions the regulations included the 
establishment of a separate vagrant ward, which was equally- 
sanctioned by the Central Authority. A similar plan was 
strongly pressed on the local authorities of the Metropolis in 
1838 and 1839.^ Such vagrants must, however, if destitute, 
not be refused relief.* The Central Authority hoped that " if 
these arrangements be adopted . . . casual almsgiving in the 
streets, by which vagrancy and imposture are encouraged, will 
be materially checked." ^ 

The first sign of discontent with this policy that we find 
is in 1841, when the Central Authority is asked by the local 
authorities of Lambeth and Colchester " whether the workhouse 
is to be a lodging house and to be inundated with these 
trampers " who habitually " make the union house a lodging 
house," greatly to the annoyance of the establishment. The 
Central Authority admits that its policy of a mere application 
of the " workhouse test " to vagrants has proved unsatisfactory, 
and declares the only effectual remedy to be a separate semi- 
penal establishment.^ In the absence of adequate statutory 
powers, the Central Authority pours out, between 1841 and 
1844, a stream of regulations and suggestions to local 
authorities, based on the idea of making the night's stay of the 
vagrant more unpleasant to him. There was to be everywhere 
a separate vagrant ward ; without a fire ; smoking and card 
playing were to be strictly prohibited ; they were to be bathed ; 
their bedding was to be inferior to that of other inmates, and 
so on. Above all, they were to be prosecuted under the 
Vagrant Act on the slightest provocation.^ 

1 pp. 135-141 of Third Annual Report, 1837. 

2 p. 89 of Fifth Annual Report, 1839. 

3 Instructional Circular, 12th December 1838 ; in Fifth Annual Report, 
1839, p. 87 ; ditto, 7th December 1839, in Sixth Annual Report, 1840, 
p. 103. 

* Letter, 2nd August 1841, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 77. 

5 Circular, 7th December 1839 ; in Sixth Annual Report, 1840, p. 104. 

6 Official Circular, No. 12, 14th October 1841, p. 170 ; Letter, 15th February 

1841, to Newcastle Board of Guardians; Letter, 12th September 1844, to 
Bradford Board of Guardians. 

"^ Official Circular, No. 12, 14th October 1841, p. 170 ; General Order, 6th 
February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 81 ; Letter, 5th February 

1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 110. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 35 

Yet the Central Authority was not yet convinced of the 
need for a vagrant ward in every union. When the Bradford 
Board of Guardians pointed out in 1844 that the average 
number of their vagrants was only twelve a week, the Central 
Authority at once acquiesced in the abandonment of the pro- 
posed vagrant ward, and said that arrangements should be made 
to set the vagrants a task of work in the workhouse itself.^ 

In 1842 and 1844, as we have seen, slightly increased 
powers over vagrants were obtained (including, but only by 
implication, statutory authority for the four hours' detention 
in the morning), together with powers to establish district 
asylums for the houseless poor in certain large towns. 

The Central Authority " framed a scheme for division of the 
whole of the Metropolitan district " into areas corresponding 
" to the great lines of roads along which mendicants and 
vagrants " entered London,^ which were to have separate 
establishments for vagrants, and so entirely relieve the 
Metropolitan workhouses of their care.^ What Orders were 
issued to this effect is not clear. Meanwhile the House of 
Commons appointed a Select Committee to consider the whole 
conduct of the Central Authority ; and no further action was 
taken. Orders were issued to the boards of management of 
the newly created vagrant districts, telling them that they 
need not meet.* How far these vagrancy districts ever came 
into existence we have not yet discovered. One of them, the 
North Eastern Metropolitan District, had got so far as to enter 
into a contract for the purchase of a site and to borrow £3500 
to pay for it. " Owing to various causes, the chief of which 
was a want of co-operation on the part of several of the boards 
of guardians, that scheme, after an inquiry by a Committee of 
the House of Commons, was abandoned." ^ Beyond this some- 
what obscure episode, all that happened was that when the 
General Consolidated Order of 1847 systematically codified the 
regulations affecting workhouses, it included, scattered among 
its various sections, a few provisions relating to the treatment 

^ Letter to Bradford Board of Guardians, 3rd October 1844. 

2 p. 19 of Eleventh Annual Report, 1845. 

3 p. 19 of Twelfth Annual Report, 1846 ; Official Circular, No. 5, N.S., 
p. 69, 1st May 1847. * p. 11 of Thirteenth Annual Report, 1847. 

^ Minute of Poor Law Board on the Houseless Poor in the Metropolis, 23rd 
December 1863, in Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863, p. 31. 



36 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of the " casual poor wayfarers," such as the requirement of a 
separate ward, and the express regulation of their diet and 
employment.^ 

-> G. — Women 

We have shown, in the preceding analysis of the Eeport 
and Act of 1834, that neither the "principles of 1834" nor 
the enactment of Parliament had prescribed the policy to be 
pursued with regard to women ; except that it was implied or 
assumed that wives were to follow their husbands exactly as 
if they were infants. With regard to the widow, the deserted 
wife, the wife of the absentee soldier or sailor, the wife of a 
husband resident in another parish or another country — above 
all, with regard to the independent able-bodied woman — the 
Central Authority had either to let the existing practice of 
outdoor relief continue, or to discover a policy for itself. 

With regard to the able-bodied independent woman, we 
have shown that the Central Authority developed, between 
1834 and 1847, two distinct policies which became applicable 
to two different geographical areas. In the thirty-two unions 
in which the Outdoor Labour Test Order was alone in force, 
the discretion of the local authorities to give outdoor relief to 
able-bodied independent women was left unfettered by any 
rule, instruction or advice of the Central Authority.^ 

In the 477 unions in which the Outdoor Relief Prohibitory 
Order was in force (either with or without an Outdoor Labour 
Test Order), outdoor relief to able-bodied independent women 
was prohibited, with certain exceptions, which, between 1835 
and 1844, steadily increased in number. As crystallised in 
the Out Eelief Prohibitory Order of 1844 (still in force) out- 
door relief was allowed to such able-bodied independent women,. 

(1) On account of sudden and urgent necessity ; 

(2) On account of the sickness, accident, or bodily or 

1 General Consolidated Order of 24tli July 1847, sc& arts. 97, 99 and 
104. 

2 We ought to state that in one of the early Orders (intended to be 
temporary) the Central Authority did expressly prescribe a policy for " single 
women not being aged or infirm." It was evidently contemplated that they 
were to be dealt with quite differently from the "able-bodied male pauper," 
who was to be put to "parish work." The outdoor relief to be granted to 
them was to be at least half in kind (p. 85 of First Annual Report, 1835). No 
Euch clause appears in the General Orders subsequently issued. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 37 

mental infirmity of any member of their families (unlike a 
father in like case, the independent mother was not required 
to produce a medical certificate) ; 

(3) For defraying the expenses of burial of any of their 
families ; 

(4) If a widow, for the first six months of widowhood 
or, without limit of time, if, unable to earn a livelihood, and 
having one or more children dependent on her, she had had 
no illegitimate child since her widowhood.-^ 

In the Circulars issued with these Orders, the only instruc- 
tions with regard to any class of able-bodied independent 
women relate to widows. In these instructions the grant of 
outdoor relief during the first six months of widowhood, with- 
out any mention of its being considered whether they had 
children or not, or whether they were employed for wages or 
not, is specially and repeatedly brought to the notice of the 
local authorities as laudable.^ 

It was, indeed, insisted by the House of Commons Com- 
mittee in 1838 " that a power should be continued to the 
board of guardians, taking into consideration the character 
of the parties, to relieve, out of the workhouse, widows with 
young children left dependent upon them." ^ 

This is the more significant in that the Central Authority, 
in one case at least, had tried a harsher expedient. In the 
Bradfield Union, which, under Mr. Stevens' chairmanship, had 
adopted an ultra-rigorous policy, the board of guardians itself 
passed a rule forbidding outdoor relief " to any widow or 
single woman, not being aged or infirm, who is of ability to 
work," except in sickness, accident or urgent necessity.* This 
was much criticised but was maintained by the majority, who 
asked the Central Authority to support them by issuing an 
Order prohibiting all outdoor relief to able-bodied women not 

^ Amended Forms of Order prohibiting Outdoor Eelief to the Able-bodied, 
1839 and 1840, in Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, 
p. 105, and Seventh Annual Report, 1841, pp. 99-100 ; Out Relief Prohibitory- 
Order, 1844, art. 1. 

2 Instructional Letter, December 1839, p. 107 of Report on the Further 
Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839 ; ditto, August 1840, p. 102 of Seventh 
Annual Report, 1841. 

^ Report of House of Commons Committee on Poor Law Administration, 
1837-8, p. 39. 

* MS. Minutes, Bradfield Board of Guardians, 12th October 1835 



38 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

being aged or infirm. The Poor Law Commissioners in reply 
said that they " most willingly confirm the resolution, and in 
so doing they desire to state that they consider the workhouse 
to be the best description of relief for all cases, and they are 
always glad to perceive that the guardians of any union view 
outdoor relief as the exception to the general rule, to be 
administered, with caution, in cases of sickness, infirmity and 
particular distress only." ^ But even the Bradfield Guardians 
found this Order, for which they had themselves asked, quite 
unworkable ; and they were reduced to asking sanction for 
successive departures from it. They generally granted out- 
door relief to widows for the first few weeks of their widow- 
hood, and were often driven to extend it. They then asked 
for an alteration permitting outdoor relief to able-bodied 
" widows of good character with more than one child under 
eleven, if a boy, and under thirteen if a girl." The Central 
Authority was loath to let go, but had eventually to issue 
another Special Order as desired.^ 

The grant of outdoor relief to widows having children, 
apart from this six months' term, is, "so far as it relates to 
able-bodied women in employment" regarded as of doubtful 
policy, to be made with circumspection, as likely to excuse 
contributions from relatives, to discourage insurance, and to 
have all the evils of the rate in aid of wages. It is suggested, 
moreover, that a widow can usually earn enough to support 
one child.^ It may be understood from a bare reference in 
the Instructional Letter of 1839 to "able-bodied women them- 
selves " as well as to widows, that the Central Authority was 
alive to the effect upon women's wages of the grant of 
outdoor relief to single independent women in employment.* 
But in the revision of this Instructional Letter in 1841 — 
though its terms remained almost identical — the slight 
reference to the single able-bodied woman wage -earner was 
silently omitted.^ 

1 MS. Minutes, Bradfield Beard of Guardians, 8th, 15th and 27th February 
1836 ; Special Order to Bradfield Union, 26th February 1836. 

2 Ibid. 4th March and 31st October 1836 ; February, June, July and 
November 1839 ; Poor Law Board to Bradfield Union, 17th July and 7th 
November 1839 ; Special Order to Bradfield Union, November 1839. 

' See note 1. 

* p. 103 of Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839. 

6 p. 102 of Seventh Annual Report, 1841. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 39 

With regard to married women, the policy laid down by 
the Central Authority differed according to the particular 
kind of Order in force, and thus according to the locality in 
which they resided. In all but specially excepted cases, relief 
to a woman under coverture was deemed to be relief to her 
husband, and came thus within all the various regulations 
and conditions limiting outdoor relief to the able-bodied 
man. 

In the thirty-two unions to which Out-door Labour Test 
Orders were applied by themselves — these culminating in the 
Outdoor Eelief Eegulation Order 1852 (still in force) — the 
policy of the Central Authority was to leave the discretion of 
the local authorities unfettered, with regard to the grant of 
outdoor relief to married women, except the wives of those 
men (" the able-bodied and their families ") to whom outdoor 
relief was only to be granted in return for labour. In these 
latter cases the measure of the relief was to be the needs of 
the family, not the work done by the husband. In 1835 the 
Central Authority had even urged that, where the families were 
large, they " should be furnished with provisions according to 
their numbers and necessities in the same way as other 
paupers " by way of " additional relief " to the man for the 
" wives and children, as far as shall be actually necessary." ^ 

As the pohcy became settled, the phrase " additional relief " 
was dropped ; but the amount given to the husband was to 
depend, not on the amount or value of the work that he did, 
but was to be " proportioned to the wants of the applicant 
and his family, and should not be deemed remuneration for 
the work done." ^ In these cases half, at least, of the relief 
given to the husband was to be in kind ; whilst, according to 
the Orders, no labour was required from the wife.^ In spite 
of the absence from the Orders of any requirement that the 
wife should render any task of labour, we find the Central 
Authority in 1842 — concerned at the earning of money by 
the wives (and children) of men at " parish work " — making 
an inconsistent suggestion. In the Minute of 31st October 

1 Circular, 21st September 1836, p. 48 of Second Annual Report, 1836. 

2 Minute on Outdoor Labour Test, 31st October 1842, p. 383 of Ninth 
Annual Report, 1843. 

3 Outdoor Labour Test Order, 30th April 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p.' 175. 



40 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

1842, it is suggested that, "if it be practicable, some employ- 
ment, such as picking up or carrying stones, should be pro- 
vided for the wives and children. The latter precaution is 
peculiarly important in the manufacturing districts." ^ This 
requirement of labour from the wife had, up to 1847, found 
no embodiment in any Order. 

In the 477 unions to which the Outdoor Eelief Pro- 
hibitory Order of 1844 applied, three extensive classes of 
wives were, by the policy of the Central Authority, to be 
treated as if they were widows. 

{a) A wife deserted by her husband and having only 
legitimate children dependent on her could, under the Out- 
door Eelief Prohibitory Order, 1844, be given Outdoor Eelief 
as a widow having a child dependent on her. As a matter of 
fact, the position of any wife living apart from her husband 
was better than that of a widow. The wife living apart from 
her husband (whether technically deserted by him or not, and 
whether or not he was within the union) could insist on the 
relief of her children, without applying for relief for herself; 
and if the child was below the age of seven, it could not be 
separated from her, even with her own consent ; and thus the 
relief had to be outdoor relief. She could, moreover, send her 
children over seven into the workhouse without herself accom- 
panying them, or herself becoming a pauper. On the other hand, 
though the local authority might, if it chose, grant out- 
door relief to a widow having a child dependent on her (if 
she had had no illegitimate child born since her widowhood), 
it need not do so, and it could not relieve her dependent children, 
whether under seven or over, without making her a pauper. 

(h) The wife of a husband — 
(i.) Beyond the seas ; 
(ii.) In custody of the law ; or 
(iii.) Confined in an asylum as a lunatic or idiot 
was to be treated, for indoor and outdoor relief alike, as if she 
were a widow (a widow beyond the six months' term, though 
this is not so stated). By " beyond the seas," the Central 
Authority understood " out of Great Britain." ^ 

1 p. 385 of Ninth Annual Report, 1843. 

2 Instructional Letter, I7th October 1844 ; in Eleventh Annual Report, 
1845, p. 137. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 41 

(c) In the case of the wife of an able-bodied soldier, 
sailor, or marine in His Majesty's service (wherever he might 
be situated), the Central Authority expressly stated that it 
felt it to be " desirable to give great latitude " to the local 
authorities." -^ 

In all other cases, within those parts of the country to 
which this Order applied, wives residing with their husbands 
had to follow them, and were not to be relieved, either in 
or out of the workhouse, without them. A more difficult 
question was whether a man could continue to receive relief in 
the workhouse if his wife insisted on leaving it. The Central 
Authority, on being appealed to by a local authority actually 
confronted with such a case, decided that the wife could not 
be prevented from leaving the workhouse. It hazarded the 
opinion (of which we do not admit the legal validity), " that a 
woman may be restrained by the control of her husband from 
leaving the workhouse, and if he declines to use his marital 
control, it is in the power of the guardians to dismiss the husband. 
But whether it is expedient or judicious to pursue such a 
course must depend on the peculiar circumstances which each 
individual case presents. One consideration is particularly 
important in dealing with any case of this description, that is, 
whether the husband is in a condition practically to exercise 
his control over his wife. Where he is not, it would be very 
unadvisable, in the opinion of the Commissioners, to make it a 
condition of the relief of the husband or of his children (if he 
have any) that he should exercise an authority over his wife 
which practically he cannot exercise." ^ 

It is interesting at this point to sum up the policy of 
the Central Authority, so far as embodied in its published 
documents between 1834 and 1847, with regard to outdoor 
relief to women, especially as affecting the "Eate in Aid of 
Wages." The policy differed fundamentally in the two 
different areas of the country governed respectively by the two 
kinds of Orders. Where the Outdoor Labour Test Order 
(continued, after 1852, by the Outdoor Kelief Eegulation 
Order, which is still in force) was alone applied, the discretion 
of the local authority to give outdoor relief to women of any 

* Instructional Letter, 21st December 1844 ; in Eleventh Annual Report, 
1845, p. 59. 2 Offi-dal Circular, 1st June 1845, No. 48, p. 90. 



42 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

status, married or unmarried, with children or without, was 
unfettered by any Order. The only rule made by the Central 
Authority in the matter was that if the woman was the wife 
of an able-bodied man who was himself employed on " parish 
work," and residing with him, at least one-half of his relief 
should be in kind. No rule was made or Order issued by 
the Central Authority against the grant of outdoor relief to 
women employed for wages, even in respect of the very days 
on which they were earning wages. 

We have mentioned that the Central Authority, so far as 
men were concerned, stood rigidly to the position of the 1834 
Eeport that the moral character of the applicant was to be 
absolutely disregarded in considering the relief to be granted 
to him. With regard to women, however, it took up a 
different position. We find it advising that the mothers 
of illegitimate children should, on this ground alone, not be 
granted outdoor relief.^ 

Where the Outdoor Belief Prohibitory Order was in 
force, neither spinsters nor wives residing with able-bodied 
husbands 2 could, apart from sudden and urgent necessity, 
receive outdoor relief, unless they were sick. But with regard 
to widows and wives living apart from their husbands, the 
exceptions to the prohibition were so numerous that both 
these classes may almost be said to have been expressly 
allowed to receive outdoor relief. The fact that such women 
were in employment for wages was not regarded by the Orders 
of the Central Authority as relevant : nor was it prescribed 
that any task of labour should be exacted in return for the 
relief. And although if we look closely, it is possible to find, 
in the circulars, instructional letters and published decisions of 
these thirteen years (1834-1847), two or three bare incidental 
allusions to the possibility of outdoor relief to women having 
the effect of a " Kate in Aid of Wages," even these occur only 
in the earlier years, and presently die away entirely. It is, 
therefore, not incorrect to say that an objection to outdoor 
relief to women in employment formed during these years no 
part of the declared policy of the Central Authority. 

1 Poor Law Commissioners to Plymouth Court of Guardians, 25th April 
1840. 

2 Not being soldiers, sailors, or marines. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 43 

When women entered the workhouse, the policy of the 
Central Authority (as in the analogous case of " the able- 
bodied ") was to classify them in quite other categories than 
those which governed their outdoor relief. The woman's 
status, with regard to a man, so fundamental as long as she 
remained outside, was, in the workhouse, entirely irrelevant. 
What became important was whether or not she was sick, 
" able-bodied " (in the workhouse sense), or " aged and infirm " ; 
whether or not she was a nursing mother, or a mother of 
children under seven years old ; whether or not she was of 
" good character " or of " dissolute and disorderly habits " or 
the mother of an illegitimate child. These considerations — 
leading to classifications inconsistent with each other — affected 
the women's segregation in the workhouse, the employment 
provided for them, the dietary and the amount of their 
freedom. With all this we deal in subsequent sections. 

D. — Children 

The policy of the Central Authority with regard to the 
relief of children rested on the general rule that children, 
residing with their parents (or surviving parent) and dependent 
on them for support, had to follow them for relief. This was 
not limited by any condition as to the age of the child, the 
essential fact being the dependence of the child for support. 
Looked at from the standpoint of the child, this involved a 
great and complex difference in policy in the two different areas 
of the country to which we have had so often to refer. In 
unions governed by the Outdoor Labour Test Order (afterwards 
the Outdoor Kelief Eegulation Order, 1852), all such children 
might be relieved in their homes, the only limitation placed 
on the discretion of the local authority being that, if they 
were the children of able-bodied men, at least half the relief 
granted to the father for their necessities had to be in kind. 

In unions in which the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order 
was in force, the children (although not sick) of certain classes 
of parents might be relieved in their own homes, whilst 
those of certain other classes of parents could be relieved only 
by admission to the workhouse (unless, in particular instances, 
the grant of outdoor relief was specially sanctioned by the 



44 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Central Authority). This determination by the Central 
Authority of the method of relief of such children did not 
depend on their age, their sex, their characteristics, or their 
needs, but on the artificial categories in which their fathers 
(or mothers) were placed. We need not follow these intricacies 
once more in detail. They can easily be unravelled from the 
foregoing sections on " The Able-bodied " and on " Women." 

Whatever outdoor relief was given to the parent in respect 
of the child, the policy of the Central Authority was one of 
absolute non-intervention with regard to its treatment. No 
directions were given, either for its education or for any other 
of its needs. The only direction that we find is a decision 
that the local authority must not pay the school fees for any 
such child ; and must not even add with this view 2d. per 
week per child to the outdoor relief granted to the parent.-^ 

When the child entered the workhouse it passed out of 
its former classification and entered into an entirely different 
one. Eor outdoor relief, as we have seen, the policy of the 
Central Authority was to distinguish among children only 
according to the kind of parents they had. Inside the work- 
house, the policy of the Central Authority was to regard this 
classification as irrelevant, and to place all children, of what- 
ever parentage, in categories, dependent on their own age, sex 
and health. They were either sick or well ; and also either 
(1) Children under seven ; (2) Boys between seven and 
fifteen; or (3) Girls between seven and fifteen. The treatment 
of these categories is so inextricably mixed up with that of 
the other inmates of the workhouse that we relegate the 
matter to our subsequent sections. 

The Central Authority gave no direction to change the 
system under which some local authorities sent their pauper 
children to establishments kept for private profit. In 1838, 
this system was implicitly sanctioned by a long instructional 
letter, dealing with " Mr. Aubin's establishment for pauper 
children at Norwood," where the children were employed in the 
workshop on alternate days, and were under the special care 
of a chaplain.2 

But the Central Authority was evidently uneasy about 

1 Official Circular, 31st January 1844, No. 31, pp. 178-9. 
s Instructional Letter, 1838, in Fifth Annual Report, 1839, p. 76. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 45 

the quarter of a million pauper children, of whom it was 
gradually getting some tens of thousands in the great 
general workhouses on which it had insisted.^ Eeports on 
the training of the workhouse children were called for, and a 
valuable series was published in 1841, in which the establish- 
ment of separate boarding schools was suggested, where the 
children could receive both elementary schooling and industrial 
training. This proposal united the opposition of the boards 
of guardians, who objected to a new authority, to that of those 
who demurred to giving the pauper children any better educa- 
tion than the children of the lowest independent labourer.^ 

In 1844, as we have seen, the Central Authority obtained 
statutory power to direct the establishment of district schools ; 
but no Order on the subject appears to have been issued 
prior to 1847. 

We pass now to the children of an age to be started in 
life. Though the Central Authority had been expressly 
empowered to issue regulations as to apprenticeship, it did 
not, during its first decade, issue any Order on the subject. 
The only indication which we can find of the policy which it 
wished pursued during this decade with regard to such children 
is a comment on the proposed Bill for the Amendment of the 
Poor Law in 1840. This comment is strongly adverse to 
the payment of apprenticeship premiums, and suggests that 
premiums are only needed in " occasional " cases of lame or blind 
children.^ Not until 1845 does the Central Authority issue 
any directions on the subject. By the Apprenticeship Orders 
of December 1844, and January 1845, amended in August 

1 At Midsummer, 1838, the children under sixteen in the workhouses of 
the 478 unions then making returns numbered no fewer than 42,767, out of a 
total workhouse population of 97,510. (Special Report on the Further Amend- 
ment of the Poor Law, 1839, p. 56.) In 1840 the Poor Law Commissioners 
estimated the total number under 16 to be 64,570, of whom 56,835 were 
between 2 and 16 (Report on the Training of Pauper Children, 1841, p. iii.). 

2 "It would be said that we should be giving the pauper children a better 
education than that obtainable by the independent labourer's child. While I 
allow and lament this truth, I wholly deny its force. Because the schooling 
of children out of the workhouse is neglected, is this a valid reason and excuse 
for equally neglecting those who are within it ? According to this argument, 
not a single ray of moral or religious knowledge should be allowed to illumine 
the mind of a jjauper child ; he should be brought up a perfect brute, since it is 
certain that this is the lot of innumerable independent children " (E. Carleton 
Tufnell, in Report on the Training of Pauper Children, 1841, p, 355). 

3 OWjcial Circular, No. 5, 16th June 1840, p. 56. 



46 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

1845, and included and amplified in the General Consolidated 
Order of 1847, elaborate conditions of apprenticeship were 
prescribed for the protection of the apprentice ; limits of age 
were fixed ; the duties of the masters were made more onerous 
and definite ; and the payment of premiums, whilst still 
allowed for children between nine and sixteen, was expressly 
prohibited, at first for all over fourteen, but subsequently 
for all over sixteen, unless physically deformed or defective, 
except in the form of clothing.^ But the Central Authority 
does not advocate apprenticeship. On the contrary, in issuing 
the Order of 1845, it wrote a special letter to accompany it 
in which the local authorities were pointedly reminded that 
it had hitherto refrained from issuing any regulations on the 
subject ; that as Parliament had not abolished the system of 
apprenticeship it would " doubtless continue to be practised in 
those districts where it has hitherto prevailed " ; that " there 
are not wanting authorities of weight against the system " ; 
and that local authorities were not to infer that the Central 
Authority entertained "any desire to promote its introduction." ^ 
Apart from this severe discouragement of apprenticeship 
we can discover no indication of the policy of the Central 
Authority as to starting the children in life. No advice was 
given to the local authorities on the subject. 

E.—The Sick 

"We have seen that neither the Report nor the Act of 
1834 laid down any policy for the sick — suggesting, in fact, 
no change in the existing practice under which they were both 
maintained and medically attended in their homes. Durino- 
the whole of the period, 1834-47, there is nothing in the 
Orders laying down any other policy so far as the maintenance 
of the sick is concerned. Both the two streams of regulations, 
the Outdooi Labour Test Orders (culminating in the Outdoor 
Belief Regulation Order of 1852) and the Outdoor Belief 
Prohibitory Order of 1844. expressly excepted, from all their 
prohibitions or restrictions on the grant of outdoor relief, cases 

1 General Order, 31st December 1844, and 29tli January 1845, in Eleventh 
Annual Report, 1845, pp. 72-96 ; 16th and 22nd August 1845, in Twelfth 
Annual Report, 1846, pp. 60-71 ; and Arts. 52-74 of General Consolidated Order 
of 24th July 1847. 

2 Circular, 1st January 1845, in Eleventh Annual Report, 1845, pp. 96-7, 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 47 

of " sickness, accident, or bodily or mental infirmity." In all 
these eases the policy of the Central Authority was to leave 
the local authorities the same absolutely unfettered discretion 
with regard to the grant of outdoor relief that they had before 
possessed. In the Instructional Letter of 1836 as to medical 
attendance the practice of granting outdoor relief to the sick 
in " food or clothing " is mentioned, without criticism.-^ So 
much was this the accepted policy that, when the Central 
Authority referred to the sick, in the comprehensive defence 
of its action in 1839, it only mentioned the steps that it had 
in view with regard to the better organisation of medical 
attendance, which did not seem to call " for any immediate 
general change " — without even alluding to the almost 
universal practice under which the sick received also outdoor 
relief in money.^ In a Minute of 1840 it is pointed out 
that members of friendly societies in receipt of a money 
allowance whilst sick were only to be granted such amount 
of outdoor relief as, together with their allowances, would make 
up the sums which the local authority would have granted 
if they had had nothing. It is not even hinted that the 
grant of outdoor relief at all was against the policy of the 
Central Authority, although it is suggested that in these 
cases it should be granted on loan.^ 

The first suggestion that we have found of this policy not 
being wholly satisfactory occurs in 1840, in the Central 
Authority's comments on the case of a boy who had died, it 
was asserted, from privation whilst his father was actually in 
receipt of outdoor relief. No blame was imputed to the local 
authority, which, it was said, had been " acting under a 
recognised mode of relief " ; but it was suggested that the case 
showed the dangers of " partial relief " ; that illness was likely 
to be more quickly cured " with the advantages of the superior 
cleanliness and the better regulated warmth and ventilation 
of the appropriate rooms or a sick ward " of the workhouse 
together with the superior nursing, dietary, and doctoring 
there possible ; and that, especially where there was likelihood 
of the outdoor relief or other family income being unwisely 

^ Instructional Letter, Ctli May 1836, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 50. 

2 Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, pp. 73-81 

3 Minute, 27th March 1840, in Sixth Annual Report, 1840, pp. 95-96. 



48 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

applied, it was better to relieve by admission to the workhouse.^ 
But this first suggestion of an alternative policy stands alone ; 
and it was not embodied in any Order. 

What the Central Authority was concerned about, with 
regard to the sick poor, was not their outdoor relief, but the 
extent to which they took advantage of the services of the 
parish doctor. Already in 1836 it was laid down by an 
Instructional Letter (which expressed no criticism on the 
practice of granting relief " in food or clothing ") that medical 
attendance could be allowed only in cases of destitution. As, 
however, sickness quickly involved destitution, it was suggested 
that provident sick clubs should be promoted, to provide for 
medical attendance when needed.^ Four years later it is 
pointed out that members of friendly societies, entitled as 
such to medical attendance, must not be allowed the services 
of the parish doctor.^ This was repeated in 1844.* "Medical 
extras," such as " meat, milk, wine, and porter," could not be 
ordered by the doctor, but could be granted, on his recom- 
mendation, by the local authority ; and it is to be noted that 
the Central Authority adds no words in any way discouraging 
such grant.^ The Central Authority became even more 
concerned about the organisation of the medical attendance, 
the area of each medical officer's district, the method of 
selecting him, his qualification, and above all the mode of his 
remuneration, so that he might not be tempted to increase 
the number of cases.^ Its views on this subject were 
embodied in the General Medical Order of 12th March 1842, 
and explained in the accompanying letter of the same 
date.'^ We omit this, along with other administrative 
questions ; but it must be noted that the whole policy of the 
Central Authority in the matter rested on the assumption, on 
which no criticism was expressed, that the sick would, as a 
matter of fact, be relieved in their homes. 

When the sick entered the workhouse they were dealt 
with as a class by themselves, in the general establishment 

1 Official Circular, No. 9, 10th November 1840, pp. 113-118. 

2 Instructional Letter, 6th May 1836, in Second Annual Eeport, 1836, 
pp. 50-51. 

3 Minute, 27th March 1840 ; in Sixth Annual Eeport, 1840, p. 95. 

* Official Ciradar, No. 34, 30th April 1844, p. 76. 6 j^^^ p. 74^ 

" Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, pp. 73-81. 
7 pp. 129-142 of Eighth Annual Report, 1842. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 49 

which alone was then in existence. We shall deal with the 
policy with regard to them in a subsequent section. 

It may be noted that in 1840 the Central Authority 
supported the proposal of the Government Bill of that year 
for the establishment of district infirmaries, but these were not 
for the sick, but for the infirm.^ The proposal was never 
proceeded with. In 1842 the local authorities are incidentally 
reminded that they have power to send sick persons to hospitals 
outside the union.^ 

F. — Persons of Unsound Mind 

A separation of lunatics from the other inmates of the 
workhouses had been suggested in the Eeport of 1834. But 
it was in the course of this period 1834-47 that persons of 
unsound mind became recognised as a distinct class. It was, 
however, long before any settled term was used. We read of 
"idiots" (1), dangerous (2), or not dangerous (3), curable (4), 
or not curable ; " the insane " (5), " persons of weak intellect " 
(6), or suffering from " mental infirmity " (7), or from 
" mental imbecility " (8), or from " disease of mind " (9), or 
merely "persons of unsound mind" (10).^ 

Persons suffering from "mental infirmity" (explained to 
mean " insane ") were repeatedly excepted from the prohibition 
of the grant of outdoor relief.* In the Outdoor Labour Test 
Order a similar exception allows outdoor relief, without work, 
and even if the applicant is in employment, on account of 
the mental infirmity of a member of his family.^ Finally, a 
similar exception was definitely incorporated in the Outdoor 
Belief Prohibitory Order of 1844 (still in force) and the 
Outdoor Belief Begulation Order of 1852 (still in force). 

1 Official Circular, No. 5, 16th June 1840, pp. 51-53. 

2 Letter, 2nd August 1841, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 77. 

^ (1) (3) Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 
7th March 1836. in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 89. (2) General Order, 
24th July 1847, art. 101. (4) Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual 
Report, 1842, p. 111. (5) (10) General Order, 3rd December 1841, in Eighth 
Annual Report, 1842, p. 183. (7) Form of Order, 1839, in Report on the Further 
Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, p. 106. (8) General Order, 30th April 1842, 
in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 177. (9) General Order, 5th February, 
1842, in ibid. p. 80. 

* Amended Form of Order prohibiting Outdoor Relief to the able-bodied ; 
Instructional Letter, 1839, in Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor 
Law, 1839, pp. 106-107. 5 p. 177 of Eighth Annual Report, 1842. 

E 



50 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

We are not here concerned with the increasing statutory 
powers, and the practical application of them, for the 
compulsory removal to asylums or other licensed houses of 
persons certified to be dangerous ; or with the question of 
their chargeability. When persons of unsound mind found 
their way to the workhouse they were to be detained. It 
should be noted that the Central Authority supported the 
Government proposal to enable unions to combine for the 
establishment of district asylums for the insane poor, a 
proposal which was not proceeded with.^ 



G, — Defectives 

We must note the beginning of a new class, only just 
mentioned in the Keport and Act of 1834, viz. that of the 
physically defective, at first only those who were blind, or 
deaf and dumb. The Act of 1834 had implicitly sanctioned 
the grant of outdoor relief to such of these defective persons 
as were either wives or children, by regarding such relief as 
not made to the husbands or fathers, even if these were able- 
bodied and in employment. Within the period 1834-47 we 
find no hint of a new policy. The Central Authority issues 
no Order dealing with the suggestion, made in the Eeport of 
1834, of institutional treatment for the blind. In 1842, 
however, the local authorities are incidentally reminded that 
they have power to send the blind or deaf and dumb to such 
voluntary institutions as existed for them even if they were 
outside the union.^ Beyond this there is no suggestion of 
policy, either for the blind or for the deaf and dumb, except 
as regards apprenticeship. The deaf and dumb did not need 
to be taught to read and write before being eligible for 
apprenticeship.^ Premiums were admitted to be necessary in 
binding as apprentices lame or blind children ; ^ and might be 
given even for children over fourteen or even over sixteen, if 
they were unfitted for the trade by permanent bodily infirmity.^ 

1 Official Circular, No. 5, 16th June 1840, supplement, p. g. 

2 Letter, 2nd August 1841, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 77. 

3 General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art. 52. 

* Minute, 13th June 1840, in Official Circular, No. 5, 16th June 1840, p.56. 
^ General Order, 31st December 1844, art. 2, in Eleventh Annual Report, 
1845, pp. 16, 72 ; General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art. 54. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 51 

H. — Tlu Aged, and Infirm 

As with the sick, so with the aged and infirm, neither 
the Keport nor the Act of 1834 had suggested any change 
in the current policy of outdoor relief. Nor did the Central 
Authority prescribe any new policy with regard to this 
class. 

It is to be noted that there is the usual absence of 
definition. The aged and the infirm are always referred to 
as forming one and the same class. (The word " impotent," 
used in the Eeport of 1834, seems to have been silently 
dropped.) It should be noted also that the class of the 
" aged and infirm " was not restricted to the infirm aged. 
The question of age did not enter in at all. What was 
meant was the class of persons permanently incapacitated, 
whether from old age, physical defect, or chronic debility, 
from obtaining any paid employment. The essential 
characteristic of " the aged and infirm " (like that of 
" children ") was indeed the precise opposite of that of " the 
able-bodied." The latter always meant (for outdoor relief) 
those who were actually or potentially in employment for 
hire. The " aged and infirm " were those (not being children) 
who could not possibly get employment for any hire, however 
small ; and together with the " children " and " the able- 
bodied " they made up in the eyes of the Central Authority 
the whole pauper universe. 

It was, as we have seen, universally assumed that the 
various prohibitions or regulations of outdoor rehef to the 
able-bodied did not apply to " aged and infirm persons." 
These persons were, indeed, expressly made exceptions from 
the first universal rule prohibiting outdoor relief to any one, 
in the " Form of Consolidated Order for the Administration 
of Eelief in Town Unions." ^ In the succeeding Orders 
prohibiting or regulating outdoor relief, all mention of them 
is omitted, as not falling within the class of " the able- 
bodied and their families " to which alone these orders 
applied. In 1839 the Central Authority definitely laid 
it down "that we do not require aged and infirm paupers 
to be reheved only in the workhouse," and that "it is 

1 p. 92 of Second Annual Report, 1836. 



52 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

not our intention to issue any such rule." ^ The discretion 
of the local authorities in the matter of outdoor relief to 
this class was thus left as absolutely unfettered as before ; 
and we can find in the published documents of this period 
of 1834-47 no direction or advice by the Central Authority 
on the subject, and no indication that it had any new 
policy. 

When the aged and infirm entered the workhouse they 
(like the able-bodied) were put into entirely new categories, 
though without a new terminology. Those who, whilst in 
receipt of outdoor relief were merely " aged and infirm," 
found themselves classified in the workhouse according to 
sex, age and bodily health. Those who were under sixty, 
and were not ordered by the doctor to be put on special 
diet, found themselves classed as " able-bodied " (in the 
workhouse sense). These varieties of treatment in the 
general workhouse will be dealt with in a subsequent section. 
It is to be noted that in 1840 the Central Authority 
supported the Government proposal to enable " district 
infirmaries " to be established apart from the general work- 
house for such of the aged and infirm as received indoor 
relief. The class to be therein accommodated was to include 
" every person applying for or receiving relief who shall, by 
reason of any bodily defect, or of any permanent ailment, 
or of the permanent effects of any ailment or bodily accident, 
be incapable of supporting himself." ^ The proposal was 
never proceeded with. 

It is clear that, although there is no indication of this 
policy in the Eeport of 1834, or in any of the statutes, 
the Poor Law Commissioners, between 1834 and 1847, 
had it occasionally in their minds to apply the " deterrent " 
workhouse test to the aged and infirm, as well as to the 
able-bodied. In 1839, indeed, they expressed this intention. 
It will be remembered that the 1834 Eeport had talked 
of the aged enjoying " their indulgences " in workhouses 
set apart for them. " With regard to the aged and infirm," 
say the Commissioners of 1839, "there is a strong disposition 
on the part of a portion of the public so to modify the 

1 Report ou the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, jjp. 53, 61. 
2 Official Circular, No. 5, 16th June 1840, p. 53. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 53 

arrangements [of the workhouses] as to place them on 
the footing of almshouses. The consequences which would 
flow from this change have only to be pointed out to 
show its inexpediency and its danger. If the condition of 
the inmates of a workhouse were to be so regulated as to 
invite the aged and infirm of the labouring classes to take 
refuge in it, it would immediately be useless as a test 
between indigence and indolence and fraud, it would no 
longer operate as an inducement to the young and healthy 
to provide support for their later years, or as a stimulus 
to them whilst they have the means to support their 
aged parents and relatives. The frugality and forethought 
of a young labourer would be useless if he foresaw the 
certainty of a better asylum for his old age than he could 
possibly provide by his own exertions, and the industrious 
efforts of a son to provide a maintenance for his parents 
in his own dwelling would be thrown away and would 
cease to be called forth, if the almshouse of the district 
offered a refuge for their declining years, in which they 
might obtain comforts and indulgences which even the most 
successful of the labouring classes cannot always obtain by 
their own exertions." ^ 

1. — Non- Residents 

A new class of persons arises in the documents after 
1834, namely those who are not residing in the parish or 
union to which they apply for relief. There had grown 
up a custom under the old Poor Law by which, in order 
to save the expense and hardships of removal, parishes 
agreed to grant outdoor relief to persons belonging to them 
by settlement, who were residing elsewhere. The Central 
Authority set itself to restrict this practice. By various 
of its early Orders it prohibited it altogether, and at once 
(with the usual exceptions of sickness, accident, and urgent 
necessity) in the case of able-bodied male persons between 
sixteen and sixty. It prohibited it as regards all new cases 
for all other persons with the same exceptions.^ Between 
this date and 1844 we find the same series of exceptions 

^ Special Report of Poor Law Commissioners on tlie Further Amendment of 
the Poor Law, 1839, p. 47. 2 p^ 85 of Fii-st Annual Report, 1835. 



54 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

allowed to this general prohibition as in the case of outdoor 
relief to the able-bodied and their families ; and these 
exceptions became stereotyped in Art. 3 of the Outdoor 
Eelief Prohibitory Order of 1844 (still in force). 



J. — The, Workhouse 

As we have shown, the Act of 1834 and the subsequent 
legislation left to the Central Authority complete discretion 
as to the kind of indoor maintenance to be provided for the 
destitute by the local authority. In view of the fact that 
the action taken between 1834 and 1847 — culminating in 
the General Consolidated Order of 1847, which is still in 
force — determined, in the main, the character of the modern 
workhouse, it is necessary to analyse in some detail exactly 
what the policy was which the Central Authority in these 
years imposed from one end of England to another. The 
common understanding at the time was, we believe, that the 
policy to be carried out was that of the 1834 Eeport. Two 
limitations only were imposed on the power of the Central 
Authority in this respect. The building of entirely new 
workhouses — which the Eeport had thought would not be 
requisite in many instances ^ — was dependent on the assent 
either of a majority of the board of guardians or of a 
majority of the rated owners and occupiers.^ The Central 
Authority was, however, empowered, without any local 
consent, peremptorily to order a local authority to enlarge 
or alter any existing workhouse or building capable of being 
converted into a workhouse ; subject to the limitation that 
the principal sum to be raised on any parish could not 
exceed £50, or one-tenth of the average Poor Eate of the 
last three years.^ As every board of guardians in the 
United Kingdom found itself in possession of several parish 
workhouses — sometimes of a large number of such buildings 
— it was within the statutory power of the Central Authority, 
even without local consent, to have given directions for the 
moderate enlargement and adaptation of any or all of these, 
which Parliament seems to have contemplated. The second 

1 p. 313 of Report of 1834 (reprint of 1905). 
M & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 23. 3 /j^-^. ggc. 25. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 55 

limitation seems at first sight more serious. The Central 
Authority could not order any greater expenditure, on 
building or enlarging any workhouse, or sanction the borrow- 
ing for this purpose of any larger sum, than the average 
amount of the last three years' Poor Eate ^ — a limitation 
which, as we have seen, was, in 1844, repealed so far as the 
purchase of sites in the Metropolitan Police District and 
the parish of Liverpool was concerned.^ But there was at 
no time any limitation to the aggregate amount of the 
expenditure out of Poor Eate that might be incurred by 
the local authority, or that might, with or without its consent, 
be ordered by the Central Authority to be spent, on the 
enlargement or adaptation of its various existing work- 
houses, provided that not more than the statutory maximum 
was spent on any one of them. In view of the strong 
objection expressed in the 1834 Eeport to the mixing of 
different kinds of paupers in a single institution,^ and the 
positive recommendation, in preference, of distinct institutions, 
in separate buildings, with specialised rules and under different 
managements, for the several kinds of paupers ^ — for which it 
was expressly pointed out that the existing buildings were to 
be adapted^ — these sections of the Act of 1834 indicate an 
intention of Parliament (as it certainly was the intention of 
the authors of the Eeport of 1834) that each union should 
have several small institutions, and should assign to those 
workhouses " separate classes of poor." ^ 

It is startling to find that the Central Authority, between 
1834 and 1847, pursued an entirely different policy. The 
published documents for this period do not afford any explana- 
tion of this difference. They do not show, for instance, 
whether it meant the deliberate adoption of a new policy, or 
whether it resulted merely from a discovery that the re- 
commendations of the Eeport were impracticable in the rural 
unions. The documents simply assume the necessity for the 
establishment in each union, not of a group of specialised 
workhouses for the different classes, but of one institution, to 
be called " The Union Workhouse," for the paupers as a whole. 

1 4 & 5 William IV. c. 76, sec. 24. 2 gee wnU, p. 19. 

3 pp. 306, 307, 313 of Report of 1834. 

* lUd. pp. 306, 307. 5 lUd. p. 313. « Ilid. p. 314. 



56 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

In no Special or General Order, in no Circular or published 
Minute, can we find any recommendation that a board of 
guardians should carry out the emphatic recommendations 
of the 1834 Keport in favour of classification by institutions, 
and the adaptation of the existing buildings into specialised 
workhouses, " assigning one class of paupers to each of the 
houses comprehended within each incorporation." ^ Nor was 
the unity introduced and insisted on by the Central Authority 
one of structure only. That the policy was to have, under 
the one roof, for all the various kinds of paupers, only one 
institution and one r6gime, is revealed in every part of the 
workhouse code. In the elaborate series of Special Orders 
and General Orders which culminated in the General Con- 
solidated Order of 1847 (still in force), we find a minutely 
particular body of rules, referring always to " the " workhouse 
of the Union, applied with practical identity to all unions, 
providing for the reception under a single roof and subject to 
a single officer of every kind of pauper, applying to all the 
inmates, and (with quite insignificant variations, presently to 
be noted, for the aged, the sick and the infants), treating all 
tlie kinds of paupers aUke.^ 

It was possibly connected with this policy of one general 
workhouse for each union that we find the Central Authority 
assuming that the grouping together of a score or more of 
parishes almost inevitably involved building a new work- 
house. At first, indeed, the Assistant Commissioners were 
directed to examine to what extent existing poorhouses or 
workhouses could be "made useful for only one class of 
paupers."^ In August 1835, the Central Authority could 
write of its year's experience that " it has also been proved 
that the expense and loss of time in building new workhouses 
may, in many cases, be saved, by a union of parishes and the 
combination of their existing workhouses and poorhouses, by 
assigning one or two classes of the paupers to one of the 

1 p. 313 of Report of 1834. 

2 See the first ofsuch "Orders and Regulations,"in First Annual Report, 1835, 
pp. 96-110 ; the Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town 
Unions, in Second Annual Report, 1836, pp. 81-89 ; the General Order, 
Workhouse Rules, 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 
79-104 ; and the General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847. 

s First Annual Report, 1835, p. 29. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 57 

separate workhouses within the district."^ But already by 
that time the contrary policy was being carried out by the 
most energetic subordinate of the Central Authority, who (as 
his private reports show) had quickly satisfied himself, and 
was rapidly convincing his superiors, that the policy of 
utilising as specialised institutions the existing parish work- 
houses was, with the boards of guardians of that time, 
administratively impossible. Already by August 1835, Sir 
Francis B. Head was reporting that " with the exception of 
Eomney Marsh, the whole of East Kent, comprehending an 
area of 590 square miles, is now grouped into compact unions 
of parishes ; these unions are all very nearly of the same size 
— all contain very nearly the same population — all have 
voluntarily adopted for their worlchouse the same low, cheap, 
homely building — all have agreed in placing it in the centre oj 
their respective unions." ^ 

It is interesting to see the arguments by which this 
flagrant departure from the policy of the 1834 Eeport was 
attacked and defended. In 1835 we have a magistrate of 
Kent, belonging to a union where they had so far adhered to 
the recommendations of the Eeport, writing very graphically on 
the subject to Sir Francis Head. "There is one point," he 
said, " upon which our practice differs materially from most of 
our neighbours, and it is one upon which I entertain a strong 
opinion that ours is the correct system. It is the adaptation 
of existing workhouses to different classes, instead of building 
new ones. ... In the first place upon our system there is a 
great saving of expense ; our homes altogether have cost us 
under £300. . . . I dislike the appearance of these new 
houses all over the country. ... I dislike the outward and 
visible sign of the change that is being operated. I am 
alarmed at the irritation. I fear the consequences. When 
we have eight workhouses there is hardly an inducement to 
pull down one only, and to pull them all down is next to 
impossible, from the wide surface over which they are spread. 
Our system, I might almost say, eludes the grasp of insurrec- 
tion. Besides this, how much more perfect is the classification ! 
How secure are our separate schools from all contamination. 
How small are the masses of pauperism which we bring 

1 First Annual Report, 1835, p. 16. 2 ii,i^.^ p, lee. 



58 ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 

together, compared with the congestion of one vast House. 
With us, our Houses are not like prisons, for we require no 
high wall to separate the classes ; eight or ten miles distance is 
far more effectual than the highest walls." 

To this Sir Francis Head seems to have replied to the 
following effect. He did not at all agree with his correspondent 
that eight classified workhouses were better than one general 
establishment. "The very sight," he said, "of a well-built 
efficient establishment would give confidence to the board of 
guardians; the sight and weekly assemblage of all servants 
of their union would make them proud of their office ; the 
appointment of a chaplain would give dignity to the whole 
arrangement, while the pauper would feel it was utterly 
impossible to contend against it. In visiting such a series of 
unions, the Assistant Commissioner could with great facility 
perform his duty, whereas if he had eight establishments to 
search for in each union, it would be almost impracticable to 
attend to them. I would, moreover, beg to observe that in 
one establishment there would always be a proper governor, 
ready to receive and govern any able-bodied applicants, whereas 
in separate establishments this most important arrangement 
(the Able-bodied House) during harvest, etc., would constantly 
be empty, and consequently would become inefficient in 
moments of emergency." ^ 

Sir Francis Head, as we have seen, had his way. In 
writing a farewell letter to the Kentish boards of guardians at 
the end of 1835, he urges them to stick to the dietary, and to 
appoint a chaplain " to your central house, which will shortly 
be the sole establishment in your union. ... As soon as this 
important object has been gained — as soon as you find that the 
whole of your indoor poor are concentrated in one respectable 
establishment — under your own weekly superintendence — 
when you see yourselves surrounded by a band of resolute, 
sensible, well-educated men faithfully devoted to your service 
— you will then, I believe, fully appreciate the advantage 
which you, as well as your successors, will ever deriA^e from 
possessing one strong, efficient building, instead of having, from 
false economy, frittered away your resources among your old 
existing houses." ^ 

* MS. correspondence of Sir Francis Head. ^ j^{^^ 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 59 

After this we hear no more of the policy of specialised 
institutions for particular kinds of paupers, as recommended in 
the Eeport of 1834. The policy of the Central Authority 
settles down definitely to that which provided each union with 
one general workhouse, almost invariably built for the purpose, 
near the centre of the union.^ 

It is not easy to discover what policy was laid down as 
to the site and character of the new general workhouse thus 
prescribed. There was no Special or General Order, and 
apparently no paper of rules or suggestions, giving any 
direction as to the position to be chosen, the surroundings to 
be preferred, or even the area to be obtained. Nothing was 
prescribed as to the character of the building, the cubic space 
to be provided for each inmate, the sanitary arrangements, or 
the structural provision for classification by sex, age, character 
or condition. To some extent this lack of any statement of 
policy may have been supplied by oral explanations in the 
process of sanctioning the building plans. This hardly applies, 
however, to the choice of a site ; and we cannot discover 
from any published document whether the Central Authority 
thought it preferable that the union workhouse should be 
located in the crowded streets of a populous city or in a 
pleasant rural district. The only help that seems to have 
been afforded was the publication in 1835 of some pictures 
and diagrams of suggested workhouses.^ From these we may 

^ The possibility was once barely mentioned in 1837 of the one "common 
workhouse establishment" consisting " of a selection of the better workhouses 
now existing in each union," instead of concentrating "all the necessary 
accommodation in one workhouse situated in the centre of the union " (Third 
Annual Report, 1837, p. 27.) See also the reference to this possibility in the 
Instructional Letter sent in that year to each new Board of Guardians (^ihid. 
p. 82). In June 1837, the Central Authority said that it had always preferred 
one central workhouse, but had sometimes allowed existing ones to remain. Its 
two years' experience had now confirmed it in its belief that one central work- 
house was better (Letter to Newcastle Board of Guardians, 20th June 1837). 

Two years later, in describing, with praise, ' ' the consolidation of Avorkhouse 
establishments" which had been going on in Lancashire and Yorkshire, the 
Central Authority observes ' ' that very few will ultimately find it desirable to 
retain more than one establishment" (Fifth Annual Report, 1839, p. 29). 
In the Special Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, it is 
pointed out, as evidence that the Central Authority had not yet had time to put 
its policy completely into execution, that there were ' ' still about seventy unions 
in which a central workhouse" had "not yet been built." (Report on the 
Further Amendment of the Poor Law, 1839, p. 7.) 

2 First Annual Report, 1835, p. 29, and end. 



6o ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

infer that the Central Authority had adopted as its policy the 
erection of the same "low, cheap, homely (?) building" — 
bearing no little resemblance to the prison plans of the period 
— with which Sir Francis Head was covering East Kent. 

It was not until 1842, after illness due to serious over- 
crowding had occurred at the Sevenoaks Workhouse,^ that the 
Central Authority began to incorporate in its policy some 
elementary sanitary regulations. We have first the require- 
ment that a maximum number to be accommodated in each 
workhouse should be fixed. Even then it was left to each 
board of guardians to suggest whatever number it chose, after 
consultation with its medical officer, subject to approval and 
to the final fixing of the number by the Central Authority.^ 
In 1847 the phrase with regard to approval drops out, and 
the Central Authority merely fixes the number. 

In 1842 the medical officer of the union is required to 
report to his board any defects in drainage, ventilation, and 
warmth.^ Beyond these somewhat exiguous forms no policy 
was even suggested to .the local authorities with regard to the 
structural arrangements of the workhouse. 

We have now to consider how the Central Authority 
exercised its power to determine the character of the one 
general workhouse which it had imposed on each union. Let 
us take the policy laid down with regard to each phase of the 
indoor pauper's life. 

(i.) Admission 

The door was to be always open. In cases of " sudden or 
urgent necessity" any person in a state of destitution, applying 
at any hour, with or without an order or any other formality, 
was to be immediately relieved by admission, and by the 
supply of food, clothing, medicine, and other necessaries. 
Where the necessity was not urgent, the applicant had first to 
get an order for admission, which (unless some other mode 
of relief was adopted) could not be refused to any destitute 
person. The pauper admitted was to be cleansed, clothed, 

1 Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 13-15, 188-190, 194-198. 

2 General Order, 5th February 1842, art. 11, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 81 ; amended by General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art. 
100 ; still in force. 

3 Eighth Annual Report, 1842, jij). 14, 188-190. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 6i 

medically examined, and searched for prohibited articles, in a 
" probationary " or " receiving " ward. The pauper was then, 
if free from disease, to be assigned to his particular section 
of the workhouse, according to a sevenfold classification by 
sex, age, and physical condition, 

(ii.) Segregation 

The character of the workhouse of 1835-1847 was 
principally determined by the practice as to the segregation of 
its inmates. To discover exactly what the Central Authority 
intended this segregation to be is surprisingly difficult. We 
have first a rigid and logical classificatory scheme, imposed 
with the force of law. To this there came both a series of 
exceptions to the classification and a series of directions as to 
the practical segregation in daily life, additional to or incon- 
sistent with the classification; some of them permissive and 
others mandatory. 

The seven classes insisted on by the classificatory scheme 
of the Central Authority were (i.) aged or infirm men; (ii). 
able-bodied males over thirteen ; (iii.) boys between seven and 
thirteen ; (iv.) aged or infirm women ; (v.) able-bodied women 
and girls over sixteen ; (vi.) girls between seven and sixteen ; 
and (vii.) children under seven. This classification, imposed 
in 1836, was confirmed, with only the slightest of modifications, 
by the General Orders of 1842 and 1847 (the latter still in 
force). As therein finally settled, it provided for "(i.) men 
Infirm through age or any other cause ; (ii.) able-bodied men 
and youths above the age of fifteen years ; (iii.) boys above the 
age of seven years and under that of fifteen ; (iv.) women infirm 
through age or any other cause ; (v.) able-bodied women and 
girls above the age of fifteen years ; (vi.) girls above the age 
of seven years and under that of fifteen; and (vii.) children 
under seven years of age." Explicit rules are made that each 
class is to remain in the separate apartments or buildings 
assigned to it, without communication with any other class.-^ 

The modern student is struck at once by the omissions in 
this compulsory classificatory scheme. There is no class for 

^ General Order, 5tli February 1842, art. 9, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 80 ; General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art. 98 ; still in 
force. 



62 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the sick, either those suffering from infectious or contagious 
diseases, or from others. There is no class for the lying-in 
cases. There is no class for the lunatics, idiots, or imbeciles. 
There is no provision for infants at the breast, who, by the 
classificatory scheme, were ordered to be separated from their 
mothers. There was no class for the vagrant intending to 
stay only one night. Finally, there was no provision made 
for any segregation by character — not merely none by past 
character, but not even for any by present character or 
conduct, which would have effected a separation between 
quiet and orderly inmates and the turbulent prostitute or 
semi-criminal. 

Some of these omissions were partly remedied by new 
Orders or recommendations between 1836 and 1847, which 
were embodied in the General Consolidated Order of 1847, 
but never found their way into the classificatory scheme 
itself. 

With regard to the sick, the Central Authority imposed 
no requirements at all. It was incidentally mentioned in the 
Order of 1836, and repeated in those of 1842 and 1847, that 
the sick were, on admission, to be placed in "the sick ward," 
or in such other ward as the medical officer might direct. We 
have incidental references during the ensuing decade to the 
existence of sick wards in workhouses. But there was no 
provision in any Order requiring a " sick ward " to be pro- 
vided, still less any provision requiring properly classified 
accommodation for the sick of different ages, sexes, conditions, 
or diseases. When these workhouse rules were issued in 
1842 as a General Order to practically all the unions then in 
existence, they were still left without any mention even of 
infectious diseases. The utmost that the Central Authority 
could bring itself to do was to declare, in the covering letter, 
but not in the rules themselves, that it was the duty of the 
master, under the direction of the medical officer, to isolate an 
infectious case in a separate apartment.^ 

1 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, pp. 108-109. In 1845, after the deliberate sending to the workhouse of 
a smallpox patient had led to an epidemic, the Central Authority goes so far 
as to suggest to the board of guardians concerned ' ' that it is of the utmost 
consequence that provision should be made at the workhouse by separate in- 
fectious wards for the reception of cases of this description without endangering 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 63 

When the rules were finally consolidated in 1847, they 
still ignored the sick in their scheme of classification, and 
actually omitted all mention either of infectious diseases, or 
of lying-in cases, merely laying it down in general terms that 
it was the duty of the guardians, "after consulting the 
medical officer," to "make such arrangements as they may 
deem necessary, with regard to persons labouring under any 
disease of body or mind." ^ 

No provision whatever was made for the segregation of 
paupers of unsound mind, whether lunatics, idiots, or imbeciles. 
In an Order of 1836 we do indeed find " the ward for lunatics 
and idiots " incidentally mentioned, as existing in some work- 
houses ; ^ but such a ward was never required by the Central 
Authority, nor even suggested by it. 

In 1842, it was ordered that, if such paupers were 
dangerous, they were not to be retained in the workhouse, but 
sent to an asylum within fourteen days.^ It was even 
su2Sested in an Instructional Letter in 1842 that curable 
cases, even if not dangerous, should be sent to asylums ; and 
that even incurable, harmless idiots were inconvenient inmates 
of a workhouse. But no hint is given of the desirability of 
their segregation whilst they are there.* 

With regard to infants at the breast, no special provision 

the health of all in the house" (Letter of 25th September 1845, in Official 
Circular, Ist January 1846, No. 55, p. 15). But even then there was no order 
made on the subject ; no alteration of the classificatory scheme ; and no geueral 
recommendation to all boards of guardians. 

The explanation of the omission to provide for the sick will become 
apparent at a later stage. It was no part of the policy of the Central 
Authority that the sick should be received into the workhouse at all. It was 
assumed that they would normally be relieved in their own homes. The 
incidental scanty references to the sick wards of the workhouses had reference 
only to the accommodation of such of the inmates of the workhouse as 
happened to fall sick. Even these were, in serious cases, to be transferred 
to a voluntary hospital, where such an institution existed. A resolution of 
the Poplar Board of Guardians, in 1842, to send "all cases requiring extra- 
ordinary surgical aid " to the London Hospital was approved {Official Circular, 
No. 20, 30th July 1842, p. 297). "Any reasonable subscription to a hospital 
or similar establishment by a Board of Guardians " would be sanctioned {ibid. 
No. 17, 12th April 1842, p. 250.) 

1 Art. 99 of General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847 ; still in force. 

2 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. 5 ; in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 89. 

^ Art. 12 of General Order, 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 82 ; repeated in art. 101 of General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847. 

* Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 111. 



64 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

was ever made by rule. But it was allowed that children 
under seven might be placed (though only if the guardians 
thought fit) in any part of the female wards ; and the mothers 
were at any rate " to have access to them at all reasonable 
times." ^ The Central Authority remarked, in a covering 
letter of 1842 — which was not repeated when the rules were 
re-issued in 1847 — "that so long as any mother is suckling 
her child, she ought to have access to it at all times exce,^t 
when she is at ivork, and that the child ought not, even then, 
to be completely beyond the mother's reach." ^ 

In 1847, still without amendment of the classificatory 
scheme, the guardians were allowed to permit a mother and 
her infant children to occupy the same bed.^ 

With regard to vagrants, the first departure from the 
policy of merely including them as able-bodied paupers came 
in 1842, in a rule requiring "casual poor wayfarers and 
vagrants " to be kept " in the Vagrant Ward," or other 
separate ward — presumably separate for each sex, though this 
was not explicitly required.* 

With regard to segregation by character, the first re- 
laxation from the classificatory scheme is to be found in a 
letter of 1839, in which the Central Authority permits 
married women of good character to be placed with the aged 
women, in order that they may avoid the contamination of 
bad characters, but only provided that their daily employment 
is not interfered with} We can find no contemporary docu- 
ment even allowing the guardians to protect from a like con- 
tamination unmarried women or young girls of good character. 

In 1840, however, the Official Circular referred to "the 
separation of certain abandoned persons from the other 

^ Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v. art. 15, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 90 ; art. 10 
of General Order of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, 
p. 82 ; repeated in art. 99 of General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847. 

2 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 110. 

3 Art. Ill of General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847. 

* Art. 10 of General Order of 5th February 1842, and Instructional Letter 
of the same date, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 81, 110. In 1847 " casual 
poor wayfarers" were to be kept in "a separate ward" (General Consolidated 
Order, 24th July 1847, art. 99). 

^ Letter, 1st April 1839, in Special Report on the Further Amendment of 
the Poor Law, 1839, p. 293. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 65 

inmates," explaining that it rested " not on the consideration 
of their past conduct, but on that of their present habits and 
character." ^ 

In 1842 the Central Authority incidentally observed in 
an Instructional Letter that the guardians were permitted to 
subdivide any of the seven classes of the scheme imposed on 
them, and that it was " very desirable that females of dissolute 
and disorderly habits should be separated from those of a 
better character." ^ 

Not until 1847 do we find a rule providing that, "as far 
as circumstances will permit," the guardians were to " further 
subdivide any of the classes enumerated " in the classificatory 
scheme, " with reference to the moral character or behaviour 
or the previous habits of the inmates, or to such other 
grounds as may seem expedient." ^ 

Meanwhile, however, the Central Authority was breaking 
down by inconsistent provisions the classificatory scheme 
which it left stiU figuring in the forefront of its Consolidated 
Orders. We may cite first the provision as to aged married 
couples. The Central Authority had for seven years 
eloquently justified its insistence on the strict separation of 
all married couples, however aged. In 1842, however, it 
made a rule " that, if for any special reason it shall at any 
time appear to the board of guardians to be desirable to depart 
from the regulations contained in Art. 9, in respect of any 
married couple," who were infirm through age or any other 
cause, " the guardians shall be at liberty to resolve that such 
couple shall have a sleeping apartment separate from those 
of the other paupers," subject to obtaining in each case the 
consent and approval of the Central Authority.^ 

In 1846, on the vehement objection and practical 

1 Official Circular, 24th December 1840, No, 10, p. 143. 

2 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, 
p. 108. 

3 General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art, 99. 

* General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 10 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 80. It is, we think, not incorrect to infer from the restricted terms 
of this rule, that the Central Authority was clinging to its former policy in the 
face of public pressure. Such an inference is supported by the terms in which 
the covering letter of 5th February 1842 refers to the new proviso, and by the 
broad hint therein conveyed that ' ' the guardians can allow outdoor relief to any 
aged couple whom it may be inexpedient to separate " (Instructional Letter of 
5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 109), 

F 



66 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

rebellion of the Norwich Court of Guardians, it went much 
further and agreed to sanction " an arrangement by which a 
separate room shall be assigned to each married couple of what- 
ever class," ^ that the guardians thought fit. In 1847, however, 
Parliament swept the original policy away so far as legislation 
could do so, by enacting, unconditionally, that no married 
couple over sixty should be compelled in the workhouse to 
live separately and apart from each otber.^ 

A second inroad into the classificatory scheme was made by 
the provision that children under seven might be placed in any 
female ward, whether that of the sick women, that of the aged 
and infirm women, or even that of the able-bodied women.^ 

Yet another, and possibly a more important inroad into 
the scheme was made by a rule of 1842, which permitted the 
guardians in particular cases to classify boys and girls over 
ten in any way they thought fit.* 

(iii.) Service 

But it was in its rules as to the services to be rendered 
by the workhouse inmates that the Central Authority most 
effectually undermined its own classificatory scheme, and 
practically destroyed any real segregation. That scheme, as 
we have shown, expressly forbade the paupers in any class to 
leave the particular "ward or separate building and yard" 
assigned to such class, or to hold any communication with any 
other class.^ Nevertheless the Central Authority had, from 
the first, a policy of workhouse organisation inconsistent 
with any such segregation. Practically all the workhouse 
service was to be performed by the paupers themselves, and 
every pauper who was capable of work was to be incessantly 

^ Letter to Norwich Court of Guardians, 3rd February 1846. 

2 10 & 11 Vic. c. 109, sec. 23. 

3 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 
7th March 1836, sec. v. art. 15, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 90 ; 
repeated in General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 10, proviso 5, in Eighth 
Annual Report, 1842, p. 81 ; and in General Consolidated Order of 24th July 
1847, art. 99, proviso 7. 

* General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 10, and Instructional Letter of 
the same date, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 81, 109 ; repeated in 1847, 
in more guarded form, maintaining at any rate segregation by sex (General 
Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 99). 

^ General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 9, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 80 ; General Consolidated Order, 24th July 1847, art. 98. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 67 

occupied in that service. The able-bodied women who formed 
Class V. might be supervised by the aged and infirm women 
of Class IV. The children under seven who formed Class VII. 
might be supervised either by the able-bodied women of Class V., 
or by the aged and infirm women of Class IV., or by the 
girls of Class VI. The boys over seven who formed Class III. 
might be supervised by the aged and infirm men of Class I. 
The girls over seven who formed Class VI. might be supervised 
by the aged and infirm women of Class IV. These girls, so 
far from being confined to the premises assigned to their class, 
were to be employed in the able-bodied women's wards, in the 
aged and infirm women's wards, in the wards for the children 
under seven, and in household work generally, provided only 
that they were somehow kept from communicating with able- 
bodied men or boys. The sick, whether male or female, 
whether of good character or of bad, had necessarily to be 
waited on, and no paid nurses were required to be appointed. 
Consequently the provision allowing all the sick wards to be 
attended by the able-bodied women, by the girls between seven 
and sixteen, by the aged women, or by any combination of 
these that the master might direct, in itself necessarily 
destroyed all real segregation. By 1847 this permission had 
been so far restricted as to confine the attendance on the sick 
males to the aged and infirm men and the aged and infirm 
women ; though such girls over seven, such able-bodied 
women, and such aged or infirm women as the master might 
deem fit might still be employed indiscriminately in the ser- 
vice of any of the wards except those for men and boys, and 
generally for household work throughout the workhouse.-^ 

(iv.) But 

It is significant of the unity of regime insisted upon in the 
one general workhouse that the Central Authority laid constant 
stress on the uniformity to be observed in the dietaries of all 
the classes of paupers in the workhouse, except only by order 

^ Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in To^vn Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v., arts. 9, 13-14, in Second Annual Report, 1836, pp. 89-90 ; 
General Order of 5th Febrnary 1842, art. 10, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, 
p. 81 ; General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 99. 



68 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

or on the advice of the medical officer, which might be either 
for the sick, for those requiring a change of diet, for the 
nursing mothers, or for the infants. 

Even to those paupers who were employed as servants 
only the common fare was " in general " to be given.^ The first 
dietaries issued to the boards of guardians for them to choose 
from were drawn up avowedly for the able-bodied, with no 
other variation for other classes than were contained in a few 
footnotes referring (apart from the sick and children under 
nine) to extras which the guardians might, if they thought 
fit, allow to persons over sixty. Thus, practically the only 
difference in the food to be allowed to the able-bodied males, 
the able-bodied females, and the children over nine, was one of 
quantity. Even the aged and infirm had the same diet, with 
nothing else prescribed for them, and with no greater in- 
dulgence allowed, even if the guardians wished it, than an 
ounce of tea j)er week, with milk and sugar, and the possible 
addition, in one out of the six dietaries among which the 
boards of guardians might choose, of meat pudding once a 
week instead of bread and cheese ; and, in four of these 
dietaries, also of butter for breakfast.^ There was, of course, 
to be no alcoholic drink for any class of pauper except by 
written medical order.^ No presents of food to individual 
paupers or classes of paupers were to be allowed, as they would 
produce inequality and discontent.* Even the sick, who 
were originally to be dieted case by case at the discretion of 
the medical officer, were, in 1842, to be fed with absolute 
uniformity as among the different classes of paupers and 
among the different individuals in a class, it being urged on 
the guardians that the medical officer should be restricted for 
his patients to a choice among four fixed dietaries which he 
was to draw up once for all, and hang up in the sick wards 
for permanent reference. These were described as " high, 
middle, low, and fever " ; and he was expressly to be instructed 

^ Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, iu Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 109. 

2 Cii-cular on "Workhouse Dietaries, 1836 ; in Second Annual Report, 1836, 
pp. 64-66. 

3 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v. art. 23 ; in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 91. 

* Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 113. 



THE POOR LA VV COMMISSIONERS 69 

" that the quantity of articles to be allowed for each should be 
minutely specified," ^ 

Finally, as it had been found that the old men and 
women who were allowed weekly ounces of tea and weekly 
allowances of butter would not take their teas simultaneously 
or consume their little pats of butter evenly, this distressing 
deviation from the dietetic uniformity led the Central 
Authority to suggest the withdrawal of the privilege, in favour 
of a simultaneous service of " a certain quantity of liquid tea " 
and of portions of bread and butter.^ 

"With regard to the quantities of food to be supplied, the 
policy of the Central Authority passed through three phases. 
In 1836 the boards of guardians were expressly directed that 
the diet in the workhouse (which, as we have shown, was to 
be practically uniform for all classes of paupers) was not to 
be " equal " — that is to say, was actually to be inferior — " to 
the ordinary mode of subsistence of the labouring classes of 
the neighbourhood." ^ This was perhaps more tactfully ex- 
pressed in the Consolidated Order for the Administration of 
Eelief in Town Unions, in saying that the diet was " in no 
case to exceed in quantity and quality of food the ordinary diet 
of any class of able-bodied labourers living within the same 
district."* All the contemporary warnings of the Central 
Authority were against giving too much ; and there was no 
provision for ensuring that each pauper got even the quantity 
prescribed in the dietary chosen by the local authority. No 
extra dinner was allowed on Christmas or other feast days, 
unless, indeed, this was supplied by private individuals.^ In 
1842 a change was made. The Central Authority fixed a 
separate dietary for each workhouse, and there was no longer 
any reference to these dietaries being inferior to the subsistence 

1 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 113. This instruction was made mandatory on the medical officer in 
1847, but he was permitted to frame in advance, not four only, but as many 
different dietaries as he chose. The instructions of 1842 were not, however, 
superseded (General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 207, sec. 9; 
see also under art. 108). 

2 Official Circular, 30th July 1842, No. 20, p. 301. 

3 Circular on Workhouse Dietaries, 1836, in Second Annual Report, 1836, 
p. 63. 

* Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in To^^ti Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v. art. 21 ; in Second Anmial Report, 1836, p. 91. 
fi Official Circular, 2nd July 1840, No. 6, pp. 73-74. 



70 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

of the independent labourer ; on the contrary the intention of 
the Central Authority was avowedly " to assimilate them as 
much as possible to the ordinary food of the working classes 
in the neighbourhood " ^ — in Kent and Sussex mainly bread 
and cheese, in the northern counties meat, potatoes, and 
porridge, and in Cornwall including fish. Moreover, it was 
provided that any pauper might, on demand, have his prescribed 
portion weighed out to him.^ Finally, by 1847, we gather 
that the principle had been silently adopted of fixing such a 
dietary as was calculated to keep the paupers in physical 
health, irrespective of the amount or kind of food that might 
ordinarily be obtained by the lowest class of non-pauper 
labourer in particular districts or at particular periods. Even 
extra food on Christmas Day was allowed at the expense of 
the Poor Eate, at the unfettered discretion of the boards of 
guardians.^ 

It should, however, be added that, although the policy of 
the Central Authority passed, as stated, through these three 
phases, the actual dietaries prescribed by it, even in the first 
phase, seem (in the light of modern physiology) to have been 
ample for health, if the paupers always got what was prescribed 
and knew how to eat it. 

(v.) CleanliTiess and Sanitation 

It was part of the policy that the utmost cleanliness and 
good order should be maintained throughout the workhouse ; 
and (to the limited extent of the hygienic knowledge of the 
time) that sanitary conditions should be insisted on. It was 
expressly made the duty of the master and matron to enforce 
" industry, order, punctuality, and cleanliness " on all the 
inmates ; every day to " see that each individual is clean and 
in a proper state " ; daily to inspect and see that all the 
sleeping wards are "duly cleaned and properly ventilated," 
and " to take care that the wards, kitchen, larder, and other 
rooms and offices be kept clean and in good order." All 

^ Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 112. 

2 General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 18, and Instructional Letter of 
the same date, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 83, 113 ; repeated in 
General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 109. 

3 General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 107. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS yi 

paupers were compulsorily to be cleansed on admission. All 
the workhouse inmates were to be supplied with clean linen 
and stockings every week, whilst their beds were to have clean 
sheets monthly.^ This latter requirement was superseded in 
1842 by the more general provision that the beds and bedding 
were to be kept in a clean and wholesome state.^ Food was 
to be given out as required for each meal, not once for the day. 
It was to be eaten only in the dining-room, and not (except 
as ordered for the sick) elsewhere in the house. All remnants 
were to be removed from the dining-room by the officers after 
each meal.^ It was compulsory on each board of guardians to 
appoint a qualified medical officer, as part of the very first 
business. It was expressly made part of his duty to attend 
regularly at the workhouse, and come whenever sent for ; to 
examine all the sick and give all necessary directions for their 
care ; to give all necessary directions for the meals of the aged 
and infirm, and the children; and (from 1842 onwards) "to 
report in writing to the board of guardians any defect in the 
diet, drainage, ventilation, warmth, or other arrangement of the 
workhouse, or any excess in the number of any class of 
inmates which he may deem to be detrimental to the health 
of the inmates." * 

(vi.) Discipline 

The same desire for uniformity of treatment for all work- 
house inmates is seen in the Orders of the Central Authority 
with regard to the hours to be observed. A fixed time-table 
was imposed, to be rigidly observed by all classes of paupers, 
in all workhouses, at all seasons of the year. The whole of 
the day from getting out of bed to retiring to rest was 
definitely allotted. All classes of paupers were to observe 
precisely the same hours, except (1) the sick, who were never 
recognised in the classificatory scheme; (2) the aged and 
infirm; and (3) the children under seven, all of whom had to 
rise, go to bed, take their meals, and work at whatever hours 

^ Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec iv. arts. 4, 5 ; in Second Annual Report, 1836, pp. 85-86. 

2 General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 75 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 95. 

3 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in ibid. p. 112. 

* General Order of 5th February 1842, art, 78 ; in ihid. p. 97. 



72 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the master might appoint, subject to any directions of the board 
of guardians. Thus, it was peremptorily ordered by the 
Central Authority that the able-bodied men, the able-bodied 
women, and the boys and girls over seven should, whatever 
their several strengths and conditions, all rise at five in 
summer and seven in winter ; that they should all work 
for uniformly ten hours in summer and nine hours in winter ; 
that they should all eat three simultaneous meals ; that they 
should all have during the day exactly one hour of un- 
allotted time and no more, and this between 7 and 8 p.m., 
winter and summer alike ; and that all, whatever their ages 
or physical strength, should go to bed uniformly at 8 p.m. 
all the year round. This remained unchanged in 1847, 
except that the hours of rising had been altered in 1842 to 
5.45 in summer and 6.45 in winter, with corresponding break- 
fast times.^ Besides the remarkable uniformity of this scheme 
of daily life, which was absolutely enforced on paupers of all 
ages from seven to sixty (or such other age-limit as might 
be adopted for " the aged "), one is struck by its omissions. 
There was no provision for going out in the open air, and 
no time during which it was possible ; unless the Central 
Authority meant that the several classes of paupers might 
be allowed in the various yards between 7 and 8 p.m., 
in summer and winter alike. No pauper was to be allowed to 
go outside the workhouse walls except for " urgent or special 
reason," and it was expressly laid down that they were not 
to be permitted, whether their conduct was good or bad, to 
go out " at stated intervals." ^ A slight relaxation in this 
latter respect was permitted (though not prescribed) in 1842, in 
the case of children under fifteen, when the master was allowed, 
if he chose, to send any of them out for exercise under the 
charge of the schoolmaster or other officer.^ There was equally 
no provision (at any rate for any but " boys and girls ") for any 

1 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v. art. 17, in Second Annual Report, 1836, pp. 90, 99 ; 
General Order of 5th February 1842, arts. 13-16, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, pp. 82-83, 99 ; General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, arts. 102- 
106, and Form (N). 

* Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, pp. 115-116. 

3 General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 24, and Instructional Letter of 
the same date, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 84, 116. This was repeated 
in the General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 117. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 73 

exercise of the meutal faculties, either in the form of recreation 
or in the form of education or training. From 1836 to 1842 
it was even ordered that the meals were to be taken in silence, 
even by the children.^ 

No provision was made for the supply of any books for 
the use of the inmates, whether sick or well — not even Bibles 
and prayer-books ; and it was thus made unlawful for the 
boards of guardians to have provided these, even if they had 
wished to do so — unless, indeed, it would have been held by 
the Auditor that they were " reasonably necessary." The 
point seems never to have been raised. The education 
provided for the children was of the scantiest. It was con- 
fined to " boys and girls," without definition of age, and it was 
thus left to the boards of guardians to begin it as late and to 
terminate it as early as they chose. It was to consist of 
instruction for three hours a day " at least," in " reading, 
writing, and the principles of the Christian religion," together 
with " such other instructions " as were " calculated to train 
them to habits of usefulness, industry, and virtue."^ Apparently 
arithmetic was thought not to come under this definition, as 
it was added in 1842.^ Shoemaking was approved in 1845 
in the case of Poplar.^ A schoolmaster or schoolmistress needed 
only to be appointed " if the guardians shall think fit " ; and 
the Central Authority thus left it open to guardians to impose 
the task of instruction on the porter or matron — this being 
actually mentioned in the Instructional Letters^ — or on an 
aged pauper — a course which was frequently adopted without 
rebuke. If a schoolmaster or schoolmistress was appointed no 
qualification was required.^ No provision was made for 
playrooms, playthings, or even playing time for children of 
any age. 

With regard to the adults, well or sick, it was apparently 

' Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v, art. 17 ; in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 90. 

2 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7th 
March 1836, sec. v. art. 16, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 90. 

3 General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 22, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 83. 

* MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 15th January 1845. 

^ Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 124. 

^ This remained so even in the General Consolidated Order of 24tii July 
1847, art. 167. 



74 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

part of the policy to ignore, and even to prohibit, recreation. 
Playing at cards and all other games of chance were absolutely 
forbidden to all classes of inmates at all hours and seasons. 
Smoking was peremptorily prohibited in any room in the 
workhouse, except by the special direction of the medical 
officer, and the boards of guardians were told that they might 
prohibit it in the yards if they chose. No visitors were 
allowed (otherwise than to the sick) except at the will, and 
actually in the presence, of the master or matron. It even 
required a special exception, not made until 1842, to enable 
parents to see their children who were in the same workhouse 
" at some one time in each day." ^ 

(vii.) Employment 

We may infer from the scheme of daily life just described, 
which the Central Authority imposed on all classes of work- 
house inmates, that it laid great stress, as a matter of policy, 
on the ten hours of work which it exacted from all who were 
neither physically disabled nor below the age of seven. The 
bulk of the inmates, especially the aged and infirm, the women 
and children, and, we may add, the defectives, were evidently 
to be employed on the ordinary household service and attend- 
ance of the workhouse and its inmates. It was expressly 
ordered that all the paupers so employed were to be under 
" the strictest superintendence," not to be given " offices of 
trust " ; and confined to " offices of mere labour which can be 
performed under trustworthy superintendence." ^ But this 
household service did not suffice to find occupation for the 
able-bodied, especially the men. The Keport of 1834, it will 
be remembered, had been emphatic in recommending that 
all pauper employment should be in accordance with the 
spirit of the Act of Elizabeth, useful to " the employer as well 
as to the employed," and that everything which gave to labour 
a repulsive aspect was to be avoided as mischievous. The 
Central Authority did not adopt this policy, even at the 
beginning of its work, and by 1847 had adopted a contrary 

1 General Order of 5tli February 1842, art. 10, proviso 6, in Eighth Annual 
Report, 1842, p. 81. 

2 Instructioiial Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 109. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 75 

one. From the outset the policy laid down was that the 
pauper was not to work on his own account, was not to be 
remunerated for his labour, and was not to obtain any personal 
advantage from working harder or more skilfully than the 
prescribed minimum. But the policy of the Central Authority, 
at first, was that the work should be useful, and for the 
benefit of the union. Thus, in 1836 it was ordered that the 
clothing of all the paupers should, "as far as possible, be 
made by the paupers in the workhouse." ^ This project 
promptly disappears from the documents, presumably on the 
discovery that tailoring and bootmaking were skilled occupa- 
tions, beyond the capacity of ordinary workhouse inmates. 

In 1842 the Central Authority declares itself unable to 
suggest for the able-bodied men in the workhouse " any kind 
of labour which is likely to be productive of profit " ; and 
remarks that " stonebreaking under proper superintendence 
is generally found to answer." Other occupations which are 
named to the guardians as being frequently adopted are 
grinding corn in handmills, pounding or grinding bones for 
manure, and oakum-picking.^ The horrors revealed in the 
inquiry into the Andover Workhouse scandal led to a 
summary prohibition of the employment of paupers in 
pounding, grinding, or otherwise breaking bones, or preparing 
bonedust.^ This left practically only stone- breaking, hand- 
grinding, and oakum-picking at the disposal of the boards 
of guardians — occupations, as it seems to us, combining 
in the highest degree the characteristics of monotony, ab- 
sence of initiative, toilsomeness, and inutility — giving, in 
fact, to labour, in flat contradiction of the recommendation 
of the Eeport of 1834, an aspect as repulsive as could be 
devised.* 

^ Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 7tli 
March 1836, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 91. 

2 Letter of 18th February 1842 ; in Official Circular, 13th February 1843, 
No. 23, p. 43. Sec also the interesting letter of 5th March 1842, giving the 
reasons for grinding by stones rather than by a steel mill (ibid. 30 th July 
1842, No. 20, p. 298). 

3 General Order of 8th November 1845, and Circular Letter of the same 
date, in Twelfth Annual Report, 1846, pp. 72-77. 

* The last instruction of the Central Authority during this period with 
regard to employment is the Cu-cular of 1st April 1846, stating that the task 
to be exacted in oakum-picking should be 4 lb, per day for males and 2 to 3 lb. 
per day for females {Offi/:ial Circular, 1st April 1886, No. 58, p. 57). 



76 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

(viii.) Sanctions 

As the policy of the Central Authority was to exclude from 
the life of the workhouse inmates everything of the nature 
of reward, encouragement, stimulus, responsibility, or initiative, 
the question arises by what means the monotonous discipline 
was to be maintained. The documents indicate that the Central 
Authority relied on the two forces of punishment and religion. 

The discipline of the workhouse was to rest primarily on 
the fact that the master, either with or without the prior 
sanction of the board of guardians, had summary powers of 
instant, though carefully limited, punishment of any pauper 
inmate. Any disobedience of the regulations or of any order 
of the master might be punished, sometimes at his sole 
discretion, sometimes by order of the board of guardians, by 
confinement not exceeding twenty-four hours in a separate 
room or cell, and by reduction to a diet of bread and water 
only for not more than two days. Between 1840 and 1847 
the disorderly or refractory pauper might also, by order of the 
guardians, be made to wear a special dress for not more than 
forty-eight hours.-^ But elaborate precautions were taken 
against abuse. The greatest care was to be taken that no 
injury to health was caused by any punishment.^ Corporal 
punishment was strictly confined to boys under fourteen. 
And, as some protection to the paupers against tyranny or 
oppression, the rules as to discipline and punishment were to 
be put up in the dining-halls, schoolrooms, and board-room ; ^ 
it was expressly provided that any pauper who had been 
punished or who was reported as refractory was (whether this 

1 Form of Order, 1840, art. 5 ; in Seventh Annual Report, 1841, p. 115. 
This was repeated in the General Order of 5th February 1842, art. 38, and 
Instnictional Letter of the same date, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, pp. 
86, 121. But it was omitted from the General Consolidated Order of 24th July 
1847. And when a board of guardians had made all the unchaste Avomen wear 
a yellow gown, this was in 1839 disallowed by the Central Authority, on the 
mixed grounds that the Poor Law Amendment Act had removed all penal 
consequences from incontinence, and that classification should be by present 
habits and character, not by past conduct (Minute of 5th March 1839, in 
Sixth Annual Report, 1840, pp. 98-100 ; see also Instructional Letter of 5th 
February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 121). We are told that 
the slang term for workhouse wards for immoral women was ' ' Canary Wards, " 
80 that the distinctive dress must have been widely known. 

2 Circular Letter of January 1841, in Seventh Annual Report, 1841, p. 121. 

3 Form of Order, 1840, art. 23 ; in Seventh Annual Report, 1841, p. 118. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 77 

was requested or not) to be brought before the board of 
guardians at its next meeting, and given an opportunity of 
complaining ; and the visiting committee was to ascertain the 
truth of every complaint made to them. Under no circum- 
stances was the master to lay hands on a pauper. If force 
was absolutely needed, he should call in the porter or other 
officer.^ For graver offences the pauper had to be proceeded 
against before the magistrates under the Vagrant Acts and the 
ordinary criminal law. 

Passing from punishment to religion, we may note that 
the main pre-occupation of the Central Authority was, in 
\ accordance with the 1834 Act, to protect the pauper from 
"proselytism or from being compelled to attend services 
contrary to his religious feelings. The basis of this protection 
was the compulsory creed register. No pauper was to be 
obliged to attend — or so placed that he could not avoid being 
present at — any religious service contrary to his principles. 
Children were not to be educated in any creed other than that 
of their parents. On the other hand, it was expressly laid 
down that a chaplain should be appointed and prayers and 
services should be officially provided, although these were 
only to be those of the Established Church.^ But provision 
was made for what promptly became the holding of ISTon- 
conformist services in the workhouse, by the permission that 
any pauper might be visited at any time of the day by a 
licensed minister of his own persuasion, for religious assistance 
or the instruction of children.^ Those who were registered 
as members of the Established Church, whether adults or 
children, were not to be permitted, even with their own 
consent, to receive religious assistance or instruction from 
ministers of other denominations.* This, however, was 
altered in 1842, when the Central Authority, whilst still 
thinking it "objectionable," announced that it would not 
interfere to prevent the attendance of such persons as 
desired it at any Nonconformist service performed in the 

^ Circular Letter of January 1841, in Seventh Annual Report, 1841, p. 121. 

2 Letter of 4tli February 1836, in Second Annual Report, 1836, pp. 66-67. 

3 Consolidated Order for the Administration of Relief in Town Unions, 
7th March 1836, sec. v. art. 17, in Second Annual Report, 1836, p. 91. 

* Letter of 6th November 1839 ; in Seventh Annual Report, 1841, 
pp. 230-2. 



78 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

workhouse.^ In one union (Eoyston), where the board of 
guardians refused to appoint a chaplain, and sought to induce 
the inmates to receive the voluntary ministrations of Non- 
conformists, the Central Authority was driven peremptorily to 
forbid, by three successive special orders, any pauper inmate, 
whether child or adult, belonging to the Established Church 
being even allowed to attend Nonconformist services in the 
workhouse.^ Finally, the Central Authority reverted, for all 
unions, to its policy of 1839, restricting the ministrations of 
Nonconformist ministers to members of their own denomination 
only, except in so far as the guardians might choose to allow 
inmates belonging to any sect of Protestant Dissenters to receive, 
if they chose, the ministrations of any Protestant Dissenter.^ 

Por all who did not conscientiously object, there were to 
be public prayers daily before breakfast and after supper ; and 
Divine service within the workhouse every Sunday, at which 
attendance was compulsory on all members of the Church of 
England, not being children or sick. It was obligatory to 
appoint a chaplain, whose duty it was to preach every 
Sunday, to examine and catechise the children at least once a 
month, and to visit the sick. It is, however, to be noted that 
it was directed that " the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper " 
was not to be administered in the workhouse, except to " the 
sick and disabled inmates " : though the chaplain was allowed 
to permit any other inmates to communicate along with the 
sick, if he thought fit.* Gradually, however, workhouses got 
regular " chapels " within their walls, though without any 
express direction or sanction of the Central Authority for their 
establishment or equipment ; and the Central Authority then 
allowed, when a chapel existed, the administration of the 
Sacrament, if the bishop sanctioned it.^ No labour, except 
household work and cooking, was to be performed on Sunday ; 
nor (as was added in 1842) on Christmas Day and Good 
Priday. The Anglican children were to be prepared for 

1 Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 117. 

2 Special Orders, 1st February 1842, 20th April 1842, and 18th January 
1845 ; in Eleventh Annual Report, 1845, pp. 30-1, 132-3. 

3 General Consolidated Order of 24th July 1847, art. 122. 

* Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 117. 

^ Letter of 20th December 1842, in Official Circtilar, 25th January 1843, 
No. 22, p. 31. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 79 

confirmation by the chaplain, who might be assisted by the 
schoolmaster or schoolmistress.-^ Originally no provision was 
made for permitting any of the paupers ever to leave the 
workhouse to attend Divine service outside, and the Central 
Authority long held to this position. Presently it began to 
consider possible relaxations for the aged, the widows with 
families, and the children.^ In 1842 it was expressly left 
open to the guardians to allow such inmates as they thought 
fit, to whatever class they belonged, to go out to church or 
chapel, in the custody of the master or porter, on Sunday, 
Good Friday, and Christmas Day.^ In strange contradiction 
of the dictum that the workhouse was not to be looked on as 
a place for the punishment of past misconduct, this privilege 
of going out to church or chapel was to be forbidden to any 
woman who had an illegitimate child,^ a disqualification not 
incorporated in the General Consolidated Order of 1847. 
And as the master or porter could not be required to go to a 
Dissenting chapel, some other regulation was to be made by 
the guardians for the case of Dissenters, " such as inducing the 
ministers of the different congregations to certify the attend- 
ance," with " the times of the commencement and end of the 
service." ^ 

(ix.) Discharge and Detention 

It was an essential part of the policy of the Central 
Authority that any workhouse inmate over sixteen could leave 
the house on giving reasonable notice — at first defined as 
three hours, and then left more vague, but explained to mean 
sufficient to enable the master to make the necessary entries, 
return the pauper's own clothes, etc., and to let the discharge 
take place in working hours. The option was, however, with 
the head of the family in each case; and if the head was 

1 Official Circular, 1st August 1845, No. 50, p. 123. 

2 Circular of 12tli March 1838, in Fifth Annual Report, 1839, pp. 71-72. 

3 General Order of 5th February 1842, arts. 32, 33, in Eighth Annual 
Report, 1842, p. 85. Moreover, women after confinement might be "churched," 
and children were normally to be baptized, in the parish church (Instructional 
Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 1842, p. 117). 

* General Order of 5th February 1842, arts. 32 and 33, in Eighth Annual 
Report, 1842, p. 85. This was rescinded (but apparently only for 81 unions out 
of 542) by Order of 7th February 1843, in Ninth Annual Report, 1843, p. 378. 

5 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842 ; in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 118. 



8o ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

" able-bodied " — it is not clear whether this was to be in the 
" indoor "or the " outdoor " sense of that term — the whole family 
had to leave with him (or her), unless the board of guardians 
chose to allow an exception. In particular an able-bodied 
man was not to be allowed to leave his wife and children in 
the workhouse, whilst he sought work. If he insisted on going 
out, the wife and children were also to be discharged with 
him.^ It was, in fact, to be a cardinal feature of the work- 
house that so far as any person over sixteen was concerned 
there should be no power of detention. Even if paupers 
persisted in repeatedly passing in and out at short intervals — 
it might be " for improper purposes " ; even if " persons of 
weak intellect " or of " confirmed vagrant habits " made it " a 
practice to return again after a short absence, generally in a 
most abject and loathsome state " ; ^ even if women persisted 
in returning to the workhouse year after year to be confined 
of a succession of illegitimate children f or if sick paupers 
demanded their discharge at a time when to go out would 
" damage their own health," or even, if they had an infectious 
disease, " endanger the health of others," * they were still, after 
a warning, to be permitted freely to leave when they chose. 
To this total lack of power to detain there were only three 
exceptions. Children who were doubly orphaned, or deserted 
by both parents, might be detained if under sixteen ; the 
guardians (though without statutory authority) being assumed 
to be in loco parentis. A person of unsound mind, duly 
certified as such, could be detained ; but this power did not 
apply to persons of merely defective intellect or feeble-minded. 
Finally, as we have already mentioned, the practice of four 
hours' detention of vagrants in the casual wards was introduced 
by the Central Authority, under the implicit authority of 
the Acts of 1842 and 1844.^ On the other hand, although 
no person could insist on admission to a workhouse, and the 
board of guardians could (subject to their obligation to relieve 

1 Officml Circular, 16tli November 1841, No. 13, pp. 187-8. 

2 Answer of 9th June 1842, in Offidal Circular, No. 23, p. 40. 

3 Answer of 10th February 1843, in Official Circular, 23rd May 1843, 
No. 25, p. 94. 

* Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, pp. 114-155. 

6 5 & 6 Vic. c. 57, sec. 5, and 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, sec. 53. See ante, p. 14. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 8i 

him in some way, if actually destitute) legally turn a pauper 
out of the workhouse who did not wish to leave, the Central 
Authority advised that, as "persons who are not really 
destitute would be unwilling to remain " in any workhouse 
that was " properly regulated," this legal power ought not to 
to be exercised,^ except, as above explained, in the case of 
dependents where the head of the family insisted on taking 
his own discharge ; or except for the purpose of immediately 
prosecuting the pauper under the Vagrant Acts.^ 

(x.) The Workhouse of the General Consolidated Order 

of 1847 

We will now attempt to summarise the policy of the 
Central Authority as it stood in 1847 with respect to indoor 
relief. The workhouse for each union was to be one centrally 
situated, plain building ; designed to house all sorts and 
conditions of paupers, under one head, and according to a 
single code of rules. There was to be complete separation of 
the sexes, with the one nominal exception in favour of aged 
married couples who demanded it. But the regulations 
made association among inmates of the same sex practically 
unrestricted. For although the elaborate classificatory scheme 
of 1836 depending on the respective ages was duly incorporated 
in the General Consolidated Order of 1847, this was hindered 
from eusuring any effective segregation by exceptions and 
inconsistent provisions ; and was, in fact, rendered practically 
nugatory by requiring all inmates capable of service to perform 
the household work of all the wards and to supervise or serve 
all the other inmates of the same sex. On the other hand, 
all the workhouse inmates were to be, as far as possible, 
restricted from intercourse with the outside world, and thus 
confined to the atmosphere of pauperism. The policy with 
regard to treatment was to insist on cleanliness and order ; 
to provide food, clothing, and sleep ample for health (even, to 
modern ideas, excessive) ; and to balance this by rigorous 

1 Answer of 4tli January 1844, in Official Circular, 31st January 1844, 
No. 31, p. 187 ; Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eiglith Annual 
Report, 1842, p. 107. 

2 Instructional Letter of 5th February 1842, in Eighth Annual Report, 
1842, p. 107. 

G 



82 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

discipline, complete subjection to the master, and suppression 
of all individual impulse. Above all, the paupers were to be 
kept constantly occupied in toil, persistent and monotonous, 
with every element of encouragement, stimulus, responsibility, 
initiative and skill deliberately eliminated. Everything in the 
nature of recreation, mental exercise or training was (except 
for a minimum of teaching to the young children) avowedly 
excluded. The only forces appealed to were the fear of 
punishment and a modicum of religious exhortation. It was 
a fundamental principle that the regime, of the workhouse 
should apply uniformly to all the pauper inmates whatever 
their past character, or present conduct, with the indispensable 
minimum of deviation for senility, infancy, and actual infirmity 
from sickness or otherwise. Even the sick are almost entirely 
ignored in the Orders of the Central Authority, and there is 
the very minimum of recognition of any hospital provision. 
The policy of the Central Authority at this date, in short, 
deliberately excluded any use of the workhouse for the curative, 
reformatory, or educational treatment of any class whatsoever. 
There was only to be one institution in each Union for 
all classes of paupers. It was to be a place which, whilst it 
provided the full requirements of physical health, starved both 
the will and the intelligence, and forced the pauper into a 
condition of blank-mindedness. By this means it was intended 
that no destitute person still capable of exerting or of enjoy- 
ing himself, with the merest shred of mental faculty or mental 
desire, would consent to remain in the workhouse a day 
longer than he could help. Hence it was a part of the policy 
to avoid all obligatory detention, and to persist in regarding 
the workhouse as a place of merely temporary sojourn, in 
which no inmate, of whatever age, sex or condition, need be 
permanently domiciled. 

K. — The Position iisr 1847 compared with the 
Principles of 1834 

The proposals and recommendations of the Eeport of 
1834 fall under five heads, though opinions may differ as to 
the relative weight intended to be given to each. These five 
heads are : — 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 83 

(i.) That there should be national uniformity in the treat- 
ment of each class of paupers, so that every applicant 
of any class might receive identical treatment wher- 
ever he happened to reside, 
(ii.) That outdoor relief to the able -bodi ed and their 
families should be abolished — it being left ambiguous 
whether or not this applied to any woman not legally 
dependent on an able-bodied man. 
(iii.) That each local authority should have a workhouse 
in which able-bodied applicants for relief should be 
received and set to work under strict discipline, in 
order to test their destitution, 
(iv.) That thej3ondition of the able-bodied pauper should 
be less eligible than that of the lowest class of 
independent labourer. 
(v.) That, in so far as the aged and infirm or the children 
were given indoor maintenance, this should be in 
separate institutions, under distinct management, in 
which the old might " enjoy their indulgences " and 
the children be educated by " a person properly 
qualified to act as a schoolmaster." 
Dealing separately with each of these, we see, with 
regard to national uniformity, that the Poor Law Com- 
missioners had failed to embody this in their Orders even 
with regard to able-bodied men; and had, by 1847, wholly 
abandoned it in regard to other classes. In over 100 places 
the Poor Law Commissioners had practically failed to 
introduce their new principles at all. The rest of the 
country was divided for some purposes into two, and for 
others into three geographical areas of uneven size. In 396 
unions outdoor relief to the able-bodied and their families 
was prohibited. In thirty-two unions under one set of 
regulations, and in eighty-one and twenty-nine unions under 
others, it was permitted on conditions. But it was with 
regard to the relief of women and children dependent on 
able-bodied persons that the two geographical areas differed 
most markedly. In the 396 unions, these dependents of 
able-bodied persons could not be relieved otherwise than in 
the workhouse. In the thirty-two, and also in the eighty- 
one and twenty-nine unions, they could be relieved in their 



84 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

homes. A similar geographical difference prevailed with 
regard to the relief to be given to the independent woman. 
For all the other classes of paupers, whether these were 
the specific exceptions to the classes above mentioned, or 
the much more numerous " aged and infirm," " sick," or 
orphan or deserted children, no uniform method of relief was 
prescribed or even suggested. Each of the local authorities 
was left to devise its own policy. 

Passing now to the second head, the abolition of outdoor 
relief to able-bodied persons and their families, we note that 
the Poor Law Commissioners had, by 1847, in regard to 
142 unions (comprising over one-fifth of the whole number), 
practically abandoned the hope of prohibition. In its stead, 
the Commissioners had sanctioned the opening of stone-yards, 
etc., for the employment of men receiving outdoor relief. 

With regard to the third head, the use of admission 
to a workhouse as a test of destitution of the able-bodied, 
this was not prescribed by the Commissioners to the 142 
unions just mentioned. 

The fourth head, making the condition of the able- 
bodied pauper less eligible than that of the lowest class of 
independent labourer, the Commissioners strove incessantly 
to insist upon. But by 1847 they had given up attempting 
to secure this less eligible state by giving less food, inferior 
clothing, worse accommodation, or shorter hours of sleep 
than those enjoyed by even the average labourer. The 
Commissioners were now attempting to secure this less eligible 
state by monotonous toil, lack of all recreation, a total absence 
of any mental stimulus, and, where possible, by confinement 
within the workhouse walls. 

But it was under the fifth head that the Commissioners 
had, by 1847, departed most widely from the principles of 
1834, viz. in the kind of institutional treatment to be 
provided for such aged and infirm persons, or children, as 
the local authority chose to refuse outdoor relief to, and 
to receive in the workhouse. Following the lead of the 
Eeport of 1834, the Poor Law Commissioners took no steps, 
so far as we can ascertain, either to encourage or to discourage 
the relief of the aged and infirm, and of the sick, by 
money allowances in their own homes. But where these- 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 85 

classes were admitted into the workhouse, the Commissioners, 
instead of the separate, specialised institutions recommended 
in the Eeport of 1834, prescribed one general workhouse 
to contain these classes together with the able-bodied and 
their families, and, we may add, also the orphan and deserted 
children. This involved, in spite of the elaborate classification 
nominally imposed, an indiscriminate, common establishment, 
with a uniform regime for all classes alike. This regime was, | 
with the minimum of exceptions, that devised for the able- | 
bodied adults. The workhouse of 1847 was, above all, to I 
serve as a test of destitution, and as a place which the able- | 
bodied would find less eligible than the worst independent 
existence. Hence when it was used for all classes — the aged I 
and infirm, the sick, the dependent women, the young children, ; 
the defectives of various kinds, and those whom accident or I 
sudden emergency had thrown within its walls — it was I 
necessarily, to all of them alike, an institution which, whilst \ 
providing the full requirements of physical health, starved 
both the will and the intelligence, and forced the pauper 
into a condition of blank-mindedness. 

It must be said that, between 1834 and 1847, there 
seems to have been entertained by some persons of authority 
and repute a simpler and most drastic view of the policy 
intended by the Eeport and Act of 1834, namely, the 
abolition, as soon as practicable, of all outdoor relief to all < 
classes of paupers ; and the substitution, in all cases, of the 
offer of admission to the workhouse. This was intended to | 
ensure that the condition of the persons relieved should be ', 
" less eligible," so as to induce them and their relatives to 
avoid maintenance out of the poor rate. It is clear, as we have 
shown, that neither the Inquiry Commissioners of 1834, nor 
Parliament, nor yet the Poor Law Commissioners themselves 
between 1834 and 1847, ever took that view. They were 
too fully conscious of the impossibility of so dealing with 
the great mass of the sick and the aged and infirm, and they j 
had not at all made up their minds about widows with j*~ 
children, or even about unencumbered independent women. 1 
Harriet Martineau, indeed, who had not before her the 
statistics showing to what an enormous extent the pauperism 
— even that of 1834 — was made up of the aged and infirm 



86 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC Y 

and the sick, could naively depict, in her Foor Law Tales, 
the complete success of an absolutely inflexible offer of 
" the House " to every applicant without exception ; the 
result being an entirely depauperised parish, and the overseer 
turning the key in the door of an absolutely empty work- 
house. What is more remarkable is to find even able 
subordinates of the Poor Law Commissioners talking as if 
they took this view. " It appears to me," wrote Sir Francis 
Head in 1835, "that we have no discretion allowed to us 
to deliberate whether the workhouse system is good or 
bad. Our Poor Law Amendment Act is physic which the 
legislature, in the character of physician, has prescribed to 
remedy an acknowledged evil. We are called upon to 
administer it, and it seems to me tliat the only discretion 
granted to us is to determine what period is to elapse before 
all outdoor relief is to he stopped." ^ 

PortuDately we are not left to conjecture in this matter. 
In 1847, on the eve of their transformation into the Poor 
Law Board, the Commissioners (then Sir George Nicholls, 
Sir George Cornewall Lewis and Sir Edmund Head) put 
oflicially on record what in their view had been the 
intention of the legislature in passing the Act of 1834, and 
what, in this respect, had been their own consistent policy. 
In a special report to the Home Secretary in 1847, they 
declare that : " In exercising the discretion entrusted to 
them by the legislature, the Commissioners have been placed 
between two extreme opinions with respect to the manner 
of framing their regulations. On the one hand, it is held 
that the main object of the Poor Law Amendment Act is 
ti^e extinction or repression of outdoor relief generally (and 
not merely of the outdoor relief of the able-bodied), with the 
consequent diminution of the expenditure from the poor's 
rate ; and that the Commissioners ought to proceed to the 
accomplishment of this end with little regard to public 
opinion. On the other hand, it is asserted that the existing 
law, and the regulations made under it, have gone much too 
far in the limitation of the outdoor relief of the able-bodied, 

^ MS. letter, Sir Francis Head to S. L., 6th November 1835. It is perhaps 
a question whether Sir Francis Head really meant what he said ; or whether 
ho was not speaking merely of outdoor relief to the able-bodied. 



THE POOR LA W COMMISSIONERS 87 

have effected too great a reduction in the amount of pauperism 
and the expenditure for the relief of the poor, and have 
thereby deprived the poorer classes of a vested right in 
the property of the rate-paying part of the community. 

" The Commissioners have pursued a middle course, 
almost equally removed from each of these extremes. They 
have considered the main object of the legislature in passing 
the Poor Law Amendment Act to have been the extinction 
of the allowance, system ; ^ or the system of making up the 
wages of labourers out of the poor's rate. With this view'^ 
their regulations respecting the limitation of outdoor relief 
have been almost exclusively confined to the able-bodied 
in health ; and these regulations have been issued particularly 
to the rural unions inasmuch as it was in the agricultural 
counties, and not in the large towns or manufacturing 
districts, that the allowance system was most prevalent, and 
led to the most dangerous consequences . . . The Com- 
missioners . , . have to the utmost of their power given 
effect by their regulations to the views of the legislature." ^ 

In 1847 the Poor Law Commissioners were, by Act of 
Parliament, abolished, and their duties transferred to the 
Poor Law Board, under a minister responsible to Parliament. 

1 See the preamble to Sec. 52 of the Poor Law Amendment Act. [This 
footnote, like the italics, is in the original.] 

2 Letters addressed by the Poor Law Commissioners to the Secretary of 
State respecting the Transaction of the Business of the Commission, 1847, 
House of Commons, No. 148 of 1847, pp. 30-1. 

It is therefore more cori'ect to treat, as Mr. Mackay does, the policy of 
abolishing outdoor relief to all classes as a further development of the 
"principles of 1834," rather than as part of them "The administrative 
success of the Act of 1834," he writes, " consists in the fact that the offer 
of the workhouse served quite as well as an absolute refusal of relief. It 
obliged the able-bodied to assume responsibility for the able-bodied period of 
life ; and, as we shall presently see, it is noiv argued that an application of the 
same pi'inciple to the other responsibilities of life ivould produce equally advan- 
tageous results. . . . That the able-bodied period of life must be responsible 
for the period that is not able-bodied is an incontrovertible proposition. But 
the first step, at that date the only practicable step, in recreating the personal 
responsibility of the labourer, was to hold him responsible for the able-bodied 
period of his own life " (History of the English Poor Law, by T. Mackay, 
1899, vol. iii., pp. 137 and 154). 



CHAPTER III 
THE POOR LAW BOARD 

We have seen that between 1834 and 1847 the Central 
Authority settled down to a certain empirical policy as to 
the administration of relief, which was embodied, as regards 
workhouse management throughout the whole country, in the 
General Consolidated Order of 1847 ; and (as regards out- 
door relief in the different geographical regions into which 
England and Wales had been divided) in the Outdoor 
Relief Prohibitory Order of 1844, in that Order coupled 
with a Labour Test Order, and in the series of separate Orders 
to be presently consolidated in the Outdoor Relief Regulation 
Order of 1852. The policy thus adopted was, as we have 
seen, in various important respects not that of the " principles 
of 1834." It is significant of the difficulty which was 
experienced in putting those principles into operation that 
there was, during the whole period 1847-71, no attempt to 
bring the general policy into conformity with that of the 
Report of 1834. We see no attempt at revision — indeed 
practically no criticism or desire for revision — of the great 
Orders of 1844, 1847 and 1852. What happened was a 
slow and almost unselfconscious development of a supple- 
mentary policy in respect to certain favoured classes of 
paupers, notably children and the sick — classes which had 
been practically ignored in the 1834 Report. This supple- 
mentary policy was avowedly based, not on the principle of 
a minimum relief of destitution with deterrent conditions, but 
on that of supplying whatever was necessary for adequate 
training or treatment, without objecting to the incidental 
result that this meant placing out in the competitive world 

88 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 89 

the persons thus dealt with in a position of positive advantage 
as compared with the lowest class of independent labourers, 
who plainly could get no such training or treatment. It 
does not appear necessary, for this period, to separate the 
analysis of the statutes from that of the orders of the 
Central Authority. Though the Acts of Parliament are 
numerous — one or two for every session — they relate 
principally to the machinery of administration,^ and (except 
in the case of children) deal only slightly with policy. 
Parliament had, in fact, ceased to be interested in the Poor 
Law, and furnished for many years practically neither 
independent criticism nor initiative. "The Poor Law 
Board," observed Sir George Cornewall Lewis in 1851, "has 
now become purely administrative and has no character or 
policy of its own." ^ It got from Parliament just what 
additional powers it chose to ask for.^ We may therefore 

^ It is a noticeable fact that certain classes of paupers are never mentioned 
in tlie legislation of this period, presumably because Parliament was satisfied 
with the result of giving wide powers to the Central Authority, and did not 
wish to interfere with its discretion. Apparently there is no single clause 
dealing with the ti'eatment either of the able-bodied or of the aged. Women 
are almost equally ignored, wives only being referred to, and they merely 
in connection with questions of chargeability, and in such a way as to indicate 
their complete dependence on their husbands. Children, on the other hand, 
are the subject of numerous enactments, and the sick, lunatics and vagrants 
also obtain recognition. 

2 Lewis to Head, 19th May 1851, in Letters of Sir G. C. Lewis, edited by 
Sir G. F. Lewis, 1870, p. 245. 

3 Thus, under the Poor Relief Act, 1849, the Commissioners might make 
rules "for the management and government of any house or establishment 
wherein any poor person shall be lodged, boarded or maintained, for hire or 
remuneration, under any contract or agreement entered into by the proprietor, 
manager or superintendent, . . . with any guardians," unless such an institu- 
tion be a county lunatic asylum, a hospital registered or house licensed for the 
reception of lunatics, or a " hospital, infirmary, school or other institution, 
supported by public subscriptions, and maintained for purposes of charity only" 
(12 & 13 Vic. c. 13, sees. 1, 2). By the Metropolitan Poor Act 1867 (30 
& 31 Vic. c. 6), they were given power to combine Metropolitan unions and 
parishes into districts for the provision of sick, insane, infirm or other asylums 
(see sections on the sick and lunatics) and to direct the erection or adaptation 
of the necessary buildiugs ; what use the Central Authority made of these 
powers will be seen presently. Another Metropolitan Poor Act in 1871 extended 
the application of the former to ' ' any ship, vessel, hut, tent, or other temporary 
erection which may be used by the managers, with the approval of the Poor 
Law Board, for the reception of paupers, or otherwise for the purposes of the 
asylum" (34 Vic. c. 15, sec. 1). The Central Authority was also enabled (by 
the Paupers Conveyance Expenses Act 1870) to "direct in what cases (other 
than those expressly provided for bylaw) and under what regulations, the guardians 
. . . may pay the reasonable expenses incurred ... in conveying any person 
chargeable . . . from one place to another in England " (33 & 34 Vic. c. 48, sec. 1). 



90 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

include in one analysis both the statutes and the orders 
relating to relief policy. 

A. — The AUe-lodied 

So far as may be gathered from new statutes, new general 
orders, or new circulars of the Central Authority, there was, 
between 1847 and 1871, no new policy prescribed to the 
local Poor Law authorities ^ for the relief of the able-bodied. 
It is true that in August 1852, revised in December 1852, 
we have a great General Order (still in force), the Outdoor 
Eelief Regulation Order, which permitted outdoor relief to the 
able-bodied, unconditionally for women, and subject to test 
work for men. This, however, was but a codification, with 
slight amendments, of the separate Outdoor Labour Test 
Orders that had been issued between 1835 and 1852. It 
might, therefore, be inferred that the Central Authority did not, 
between 1847 and 1871, change its policy.^ 



(i.) National Uniformity 

No attempt was made to secure national uniformity with 
regard to the treatment of the able-bodied. 

Union after union was brought under one or other of the 
three systems wliich we have already described until, by 
1871, with half-a-dozen exceptions, the whole area was covered. 
The Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order of 1844 (forbidding, with 
certain exceptions, outdoor relief to the able-bodied, whether men 
or women) continued in force in, or was issued anew to, certain 
unions. This Order, coupled with an Outdoor Labour Test 
Order (sanctioning outdoor relief to able-bodied men and their 
families subject to test work by the man, but prohibiting out- 
door relief to able-bodied independent women), continued in 

^ The episode of the Lancashh'e Cotton Famine, and its relief works, in which 
the boards of guardians were concerned only as nuisance-abatement authorities, 
will be dealt with under the head of Municipal Work for the Unemployed. 

2 It should perhaps be said that the Central Authority sought to widen the 
category of able-bodied, so as definitely to include persons over sixty, but in no 
way disabled {Official Circular, April 1849, No. 24, N.S., p. 63); and also 
"Children competent to render service" (Poor Law Board to Evesham Union, 
3rd April 1869, in Twenty-second Annual Report, 1869-70, p. 5). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 91 

force in, or was issued anew to, certain other unions. To a 
third set of unions there was issued the Outdoor Belief 
Eegulation Order (permitting outdoor relief to able-bodied 
women unconditionally, and to able-bodied men subject to 
test work). These three systems of outdoor relief to the able- 
bodied remained, between 1847 and 1871, essentially as they 
had been elaborated between 1834 and 1847. 

But meanwhile a great change in the policy of the Central 
Authority was silently taking place. The areas over which 
the three systems were applied completely shifted in relative 
importance. In 1847 the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order, 
issued alone, which may be said to come nearest to the 
"principles of 1834," had been imposed on 396 unions; the 
two other systems standing out only as relatively small 
exceptions, temporarily applicable to 142 places in all. 

It is clear that at that period the Central Authority was 
" of opinion that where there is a commodious and efficient 
workhouse, it is best that the aUe-hodied paupers should be 
received and set to work therein." ^ 

Yet for the'next twenty years the part of England and 
Wales to which the Central Authority sought to apply 
this policy steadily shrank. In 1871, the Outdoor Eelief 
Prohibitory Order, issued alone, applied only to 307 unions, 
containing a steadily declining proportion of the total 
population. 

That Order was mitigated in 217 unions, comprising a 
steadily increasing population, by being accompanied by a 
Labour Test Order. Finally, the Outdoor Eelief Eegulation 
Order, since 1852 adopted as a permanent policy, had crept 
over the Metropolis, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and the 
majority of urban centres elsewhere, to the number of no fewer 
than 117. In these important districts the Central Authority 
had become convinced, to use its own words, that it was " not 
expedient. . . to prohibit out-relief to any class of paupers." ^ 

The able-bodied in the workhouse remained under the 
General Consolidated Order of 1847 essentially as we have 
already described them. 

1 Circular of 25th August 1852 in Fifth Annual Report, 1852, pp. 21-2. 
Note the limitation which we have italicised. 

2 Ibid. p. 22. 



92 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

(ii.) Municipal Work for the Unemployed 

We must here mention the episode of the public works 
undertaken in 1863-6 by the municipal and public health 
authorities of Lancashire, etc., as a means of relieving the 
distress caused by the cotton famine. As this has been so 
clearly described by various writers, it will suffice here to 
draw attention to the fact that although directed by the Poor 
Law Board, these works of municipal improvement formed no 
part of its Poor Law policy. The Central Authority began by 
sanctioning " a large amount of relief given at variance with 
the provisions of the General Belief Eegulations Order." ^ The 
problem was then tackled by extensive charitable funds. 
Finally the Poor Law Board itself came to the conclusion 
that "it appeared highly desirable that the large bodies of able- 
bodied men who had been so long deprived of their usual 
employment should not continue to be relieved either in 
idleness, or on the performance of a task of unremunerative 
labour, but should rather, if possible, have work at adequate 
wages placed within their reach which would enable them 
to obtain an independent livelihood." "^ What was then 
adopted was the policy of using public orders for necessary 
work as a means of partially filling the gap in the aggregate 
volume of employment caused by the stoppage of the mills. 
Various minor relief works, in the ordinary sense of the term, 

1 Fifteenth Annual Report, 1862-3, p. 14. 

2 Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863-4, p. 15. The boards of guardians did not, 
in this emergency, always turn round as quickly as did the Central Authority. 
Thus, in December 1863, the Manchester Town Council, which was building 
its Prestwich Reservoir, and applying for a loan of £130,000 under the new 
Act, offered to the Manchester Board of Guardians to take on any able-bodied 
paupers as labourers. That body, instead of gladly accepting under proper 
arrangements, passed a series of abstract resolutions, to the effect ' ' that this 
Board conceives that the payment by boards of guardians of wages in return 
for labour to poor persons chargeable or seeking to become chargeable upon the 
rates, or the holding themselves responsible for the providing of such labour for 
wages — thus impairing the self-reliance of the poor — is opposed to the whole 
spirit and intent of the • Poor Law, and it is inexpedient both upon social and 
economical grounds." The town council (which duly received its share of the 
Government loan from the Poor Law Board) persisted in its desire to be heli)ful 
in the great crisis, and let the work to a contractor, who undertook to employ 
only such unemployed operatives as were recommended by the board of guardians 
or any other body to be named by the town council, but with full control and 
right of dismissal. "We do not find evidence that the guardians named any one 
(MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 3rd and 10th December 1863). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 93 

were started by local committees and private persons. But 
the main experiment, fostered by Government loans of nearly 
two millions, and the advice of a Government engineer, took 
the form of the execution by the municipalities, and other local 
authorities, of necessary works of public improvement, which, 
far from being artificially created in order to give employment, 
would in any event have had to be executed, and were, in 
fact, long overdue.^ There was no attempt to set all the 
unemployed to work, and no desire to confine to them the 
staff that was engaged. As a matter of fact, about a third of 
the men taken on were workmen skilled in the particular 
work to be done, and these do not appear to have been drawn 
from the unemployed class at all. But for the mere unskilled 
manual work volunteers were (in some, but not all the cases) 
asked for among the distressed cotton operatives, from amongst 
whom the necessary number of labourers were selected, to be 
engaged at labourers rates of 'pay. Thus, although in this 
utilisation of public orders to regularise the volume of 
employment there was just this element of relief works, 
that in some of the towns and some of the works use was 
made, for the unskilled manual labour, of the services of 
selected unemployed cotton operatives, the Lancashire 
authorities escaped what we have elsewhere called the 
essential dilemma that attends the artificial employment of 
the unemployed. As they were in the exceptional position of 
having to offer unskilled labourers' work to skilled and 
normally highly-paid operatives — and as they did not pretend 
to take on " the unemployed " as such, but merely asked for 
so many volunteers from among the cotton operatives to the 
exclusion of the actual labouring class — the wages that they 
gave, though sufficient for livelihood, offered no attraction to 
any of those whom they employed who had the alternative 
of returning to their accustomed occupation. The boards of 
guardians were concerned in these works only in their capacity 

1 " No work has been executed . . . which was not desirable as a work of 
permanent utility and sanitary improvement, altogether independent of the 
circumstances which, during the existence of the cotton famine, gave rise to the 
special Acts of Parliament. . . . During the rapid growth of these towns works 
necessary to health, comfort and trade, such as main sewering . . . had not 
been executed as rapidly as they were required " (Rawlinson's Report of 
12th January 1866, in Eighteenth Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1865-6, 
pp. 44, 46). 



94 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

as public health authorities. But the fact is important that 
in this emergency, the Poor Law Board itself, beginning with 
a mere relaxation of its regulations, turned then, as an 
alternative, to even less strictly regulated charity, and 
finally came to the conclusion that the best policy was to use 
the municipal orders for waterworks, sewers, and paving 
works, as far as possible, to make up a definitely ascertained 
deficiency in private orders. It was, we suggest, just because 
these were not relief works in the usual sense of the term, but 
merely public works of utility and even of necessity that were 
long overdue, and because they were, in the main, executed 
as such by labourers engaged at wages in the ordinary way, and 
not with a view of offering work to all who demanded it, that 
the Poor Law Board could come unhesitatingly to the conclusion 
that the experiment had been a great success. The success, 
however, of the Government loan of nearly two millions 
lay at least as much in the stimulus given to sanitary 
improvement and municipal enterprise as in the comparatively 
small amount of relief thereby directly afforded to the 
distressed cotton operatives.-^ 

An incident of this great experiment is worth recording, 
as possibly affording a hint and a precedent. In October 
1862 — before the Government loans had actually started the 
municipalities engaging in municipal works — the Central 
Authority authorised the Manchester Board of Guardians to 
give outdoor relief to able-bodied men for whom a labour 
test could not be provided, on condition that they attended 
educational classes arranged by the guardians. This per- 
mission was largely acted upon. One whole trade union 
(the Society of Makers Up), asked " to be sent to school, 
instead of to labour." Not only were reading and writing 
taught, but what we should now term university extension 
lectures were delivered (by Professor Eoscoe, etc.).^ 

1 For this, the leading case in England of national relief works, see Professor 
Smart's Memorandum on the Poor Law Board, in Report of the Poor Law 
Commission, 1909, Appendix, vol. 12; Annual Reports of the Poor Law Board, 
1862-3 to 1865-6 inclusive ; History of the English Poor Law, by T. Mackay, 1899, 
vol. iii., pp. 398-424 ; The Facts of the Cotton Famine, by Dr. John Watts, 1866 ; 
History of the Cotton Famine, by R. A. (afterwards Sir Arthur) Arnold, 1864 ; 
Lancashire's Lesson, by W. T, M'CuUagh Torrens, 1864 ; Public Works in 
Lancashire for the Relief of Distress, 1863-6, by Sir R. Rawlinsou, 1898. 

2 MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 30th October, 20th 
November, and 3rd December 1862. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 95 

B. — Vagrants 

"We left the Poor Law Commissioners, in 1847, at last 
awake to the fact that the policy of the Eeport of 1834 
— that vagrants should be treated like any other able-bodied 
male paupers, and offered " the House " — had been a con- 
spicuous failure. The new " union workhouses," rising up 
all over the country, afibrded to the habitual tramp a national 
system of well-ordered, suitably situated, gratuitous common 
lodging-houses, of which he took increasing advantage.^ Con- 
fronted by this growth of vagrancy, the Poor Law Commis- 
sioners, towards the end of their term, had pressed on boards 
of guardians a new vagrancy policy — that of making the \ 
night's lodging disagreeable to the wayfarer. By statute and | 
order the Central Authority had authorised compulsory deten- 
tion for four hours and the exaction of a task of work. This 
policy had not been generally adopted, nor particularly 
successful where tried. In the bad years of 1847-9 
vagrancy was still increasing at a dangerous rate, and one 
of the first duties of the new Poor Law Board was to issue 
instructions on the subject. 

The instructions given by Mr. Charles Buller, the first 
President of the Poor Law Board, adumbrated in the guise of 
a policy what were really two distinct and inherently incom- 
patible lines of action. The Central Authority, on the one 
hand, pressed on boards of guardians the advisability of dis- 
criminating between the honest unemployed in search of work 
and the professional tramp — "the thief, the mendicant and 
the prostitute, who crowd the vagrant wards" — even to the 
extent of refusing all relief whatsoever to able-bodied men of 
the latter class, who were not in immediate danger of 
starvation. It seems as if the Central Authority was at this 
point almost inclined to press on boards of guardians the 
Scottish Poor Law policy of regarding the able-bodied healthy \ 
male adult as ineligible for relief. " As a general rule," it 
was laid down, the relieving officer " would be right in 
refusing relief to able-bodied and healthy men ; though in 
inclement weather he might afford them shelter if really 

1 Eeports and Communications on Vagrancy, 1848. 



96 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

destitute of the means of procuring it for themselves."^ Acting 
on this suggestion many boards of guardians closed their 
vagrant wards,^ and the Bradford Guardians decided to 
" altogether dispense with " the meals heretofore given " at 
the vagrant office." ^ The honest wayfarer in temporary 
distress might, it was suggested, be given a certificate showing 
his circumstances, destination, object of journey, etc., upon 
production of which he was to be readily admitted to the 
workhouses, and provided with comfortable accommodation.* 
To aid in this discrimination, it was suggested that a police 
constable, who had knowledge of habitual vagrants and was 
feared by them, would be useful as an assistant reliev- 
ing officer.^ Nevertheless the other policy, that of the 
casual ward, admitting to its disagreeable and deterrent 
shelter every applicant who chose to apply for it, was not 
abandoned by the Central Authority. The orders and 
instructions about casual wards still remained in force, and 
continued to be issued or confirmed. These involved, not 
the refusal of relief to the able-bodied healthy male adult, but 
systematic provision for it, coupled with detention and a task 
of work. 

Ten years later we find the Central Authority definitely 
abandoning, so far as the Metropolis was concerned, both its 
policy of discrimination among wayfarers and that of refusing, 
at any rate in weather not inclement, relief to the healthy 
able-bodied male vagrant. The London workhouses had 
become congested " by the flocking into them of the lowest 

^ Minute of Poor Law Board, 4th August 1848, in Official Circular, 1848, 
No. 17, N.S., p. 271. 

2 On Vagrants and Tramps, by T. Barwick L. Baker (Manchester Statistical 
Society, 1S68-9, p. 62). 

3 MS. Minutes, Bradford Board of Guardians, 23rd November 1849. On 
this, the Central Authority evidently felt that it had gone too far. It informed 
the Bradford Guardians that the resolution must be rescinded ; that " in 
affording relief to vagrants the guardians should be governed by the same rule 
that applies to relief in other cases, namely, the nature of the destitution and 
the amount of the necessity of the applicant. If the guardians or their officers 
are satisfied that there is no actual necessity, no danger to health or life, they 
will be justified in refusing to give more than shelter [Mr. BuUer's circular 
had suggested refusing even shelter in weather not inclement] ; but if the applicant 
appears to be really in want of food, it must be supplied " (Poor Law Board 
to Bradford Union, 29th November 1849 ; MS. Minutes, Bradford Board of 
Guardians, 30th November 1849). 

* Official Circular, No. 17, N.S. July and August 1848, p. 270. 
6 ibid. p. 271. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 97 

and most difficult to manage classes of poor." ^ They were 
now to be entirely relieved of the annoyance and disorganisa- 
tion caused by the nightly influx of casual inmates. All 
persons applying for a night's lodging were to be subjected, 
whatever their antecedents, character, or circumstances, to a 
uniform " test of destitution," by being received only in 
" asylums for the houseless poor," six of which, conducted on ] 
a uniform system of employment, discipline, and deterrent 
treatment, were to be established in London apart from the 
workhouses.^ This was admittedly a revival of the project of 
1844,^ which had failed from the "want of co-operation on 
the part of several of the boards of guardians." ^ The revived 
policy* proved for six years equally unsuccessful and for 
the same reason. The six " asylums for the houseless poor " 
did not get built, and vagrants continued to be dealt with 
haphazard in the forty Metropolitan workhouses. In 1864 
the Central Authority took what proved to be a decisive 
step. The Metropolitan Houseless Poor Acts, 1864 and 
1865, made it obligatory on Metropolitan boards of guardians 
to provide casual wards for " destitute wayfarers, wanderers, 
and foundlings." ^ At the same time it bribed them to adopt 
that policy for all wayfarers by making (in accordance with a 
recommendation of the House of Commons Select Committee 
on Poor Eelief of 1864) the cost of relief given in the casual 
wards a common charge upon the whole of London.^ The 
casual wards so made a common charge had to be conducted 
under rules to be framed by the Central Authority ; and these 
we have in the Circular of October 26th 1864, recommending 
that the new casual wards should consist of two large 
" parallelograms," each to accommodate in common promiscuity 

1 Mr. Sotheron Estcourt (President of Poor Law Board), 15th July 1858, 
Hansard, vol. 151, p. 1500). "The nightly occupants of the vagrant ward 
interfere ■with the regular inmates, harass the officers, and at some seasons and 
in some workhouses render it impossible to preserve the order or to carry out 
the ordinary regulations of the establishment " (Circular of 30th November 
1857, in Eleventh Annual Report, 1858, p. 29). 2 Xhid. pp. 30-31. 

3 Mr. Sotheron Estcourt, 15th July 1858 ; Hansard, vol. 151, p. 1500. 

* Minute of 23rd December 1863, in Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863-4, p. 31. 

6 27 & 28 Vic. c. 116 (1864) ; 28 & 29 Vic. c. 34 (1865) ; Circular of 
26th October 1864, in Seventeenth Annual Report, 1864-5, p. 77. 

•* The first expedient was to cause the sums so expended to be refunded by 
the Metropolitan Board of Works. In 1867 this was replaced by the Common 
Poor Fund. 

H 



98 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

as many of one sex as were ever expected ; furnished with a 
common " sleeping platform " down each side, on which the 
reclining occupants were to be separated from each other only 
by planks on edge; without separate accommodation for dressing 
or undressing ; and with coarse " straw or cocoa fibre in a loose 
tick," and a rug " sufficient for warmth." ^ To this was added, 
by the General Order of March 3rd 1866, a uniform dietary 
" for wayfarers " in these wards of bread and gruel only,^ 
thus definitely marking the abandonment, so far as London was 
concerned, of all attempt, either at refusing a night's lodging 
to able-bodied healthy males, or at doing anything more or 
anything different for the honest unemployed wayfarer than 
for the professional tramp. 

Notwithstanding the apparent decisiveness of policy as to 
vagrants embodied in the Metropolitan Houseless Poor Act of 
1864, we find the Central Authority, disturbed by the steady 
growth of vagrancy throughout the country,^ still continuing 
to talk about discrimination. In 1868, Sir M. Hicks-Beach, 
in announcing that the Poor Law Board contemplated 
extending to the whole country the Metropolitan system of 
dealing with vagrants, added, with an inconsistency which we 
do not understand, that " it would be required .... that 
guardians should take the responsibility of a sound and vigilant 
discrimination between deserving travellers in search of 
work and professional vagrants not really destitute, by the 
appointment of officers capable of exercising such discrimina- 
tion ; and that, where practicable, the police should be 
appointed assistant relieving officers. The forthcoming Order 
would likewise suggest, in cases where it might be practicable, 
that the accommodation for deserving travellers should be 
different from that given to professional vagrants." ^ Yet even 

1 Circular of 26th October 1864, in Seventeenth Annual Eeport, 1864-5, 
p. 78. It may be added that from 1863 onward, the police acted as assistant 
relieving oificers for vagrants in the Metropolis. The police complained of the 
filth and vermin brought to the police stations by applicants for relief, and 
they were relieved of the duty in 1872 (Report of Departmental Committee 
on Vagrancy, 1906, Cd. 2852, vol. i. p. 12). The police also acted for some rural 
boards of guardians, the police stations serving as "vagrant relief stations," 
e.g. at Bakewell, where they were discontinued in 1869 (MS. Minutes, Bakewell 
Board of Guardians, 15th March 1869). 

2 General Order of 3rd March 1866, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1867, p. 37. 

3 Reports on Vagrancy made to the President of the Poor Law Board, 1866, 
* Sir M. Hicks Beach, 28th July 1868 {Hansard, vol. 193, p. 1910). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 99 

for the professional vagrant the promiscuous London casual 
ward of 1864 was not to be extended. "It was," said the 
President of the Poor Law Board in 1868, "very desirable 
that .... each person should have a separate or divided 
bed place." ^ The new policy, which the President seems to 
have thought was the London policy of 1864, but which was 
really a revival of Mr. Charles Puller's policy of 1848, was 
embodied in a Circular, which admittedly reproduced, in all 
essentials, the Minute of 1848 — the necessity of dis- 
crimination, the employment of the police, the issue of tickets 
to genuine honest wayfarers, their comfortable accommodation 
in workhouses without task of work, and the desirability of 
uniformity of treatment in the different unions.^ 

It must be added that, before the end of its tenure of 
office, the Poor Law Board had become convinced that it had 
as completely failed to solve the problem of vagrancy as had 
the Poor Law Commissioners. In the Metropolis it was forced 
on its attention that "the great increase in the pauper 
population may be traced to the operation of the Houseless 
Poor Act, which has practically legalised vagrancy and pro- 
fessional vagabondism." ^ Throughout the whole country the 
number of vagrants nightly relieved in the workhouse, which 
had between 1858 and 1862 always been under 2000, rose 
between 1862 and 1870 to between five and six thousand, 
and to a maximum of 7946 on 1st July 1868, though falling i 
to less in the exceptionally good trade of 1870-1.* The fact 
is that the boards of guardians felt themselves between the 
horns of a dilemma, against which the inconsistent see-saw 
policy of the Central Authority was no protection. If 
they refused relief to those whom their relieving officers 
deemed worthless loafers, these bad characters became 

1 Sir M. Hicks Beach, 28th July 1868 {Hamard, vol. 193, p. 1910). 

2 Circular of 28th November, 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, 
pp. 74-76. It is curious that the dietary suggested in this Circular allowed (with- 
out explanation), the guardians to give male adults eight ounces of bread and a 
pint of gruel, whereas the General Order to the Metropolitan Unions of the 
preceding year had definitely limited adult males to six ounces of bread and a 
pint of gruel. 

^ St. George's, Hanover Square, to Poor Law Board. The numbers of 
"casual and houseless poor" relieved in the Metropolis went up from 1086, on 
1st July 1866, to 2085 on 1st July 1868, and 1760 on 1st July 1870 (Twenty- 
third Annual Report, 1870-1, p. xxiv). 

* Ibid. pp. 394-5. 



t^li 



loo ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

" masterful beggars," pertinacious tramps, and sources of 
danger to the countryside, whilst in the bad times of 1866 
some of those refused relief suffered hardship and even 
death.^ Hence the general reversion to a policy of relief. 
The Central Authority, under Mr. Goschen's presidency, was 
at this point considering a new policy, that of penal detention 
after relief. Mr. G-oschen explained to the House of Commons 
that this would amount, practically, to "a kind of imprison- 
ment," and be " a stronger measure than the administration 
by the police of the law as at present existing," which had also 
been proposed, but "if Parliament were inclined to concede 
power to detain paupers for a longer period than they were 
now detained, and to keep them at work, he believed that 
would be a very effectual means of diminishing vagrancy and 
pauperism." ^ 

C. — Women 

Women, of whom there were always between 80,000 
and 100,000 on outdoor relief, were almost wholly ignored 
in the Poor Law Legislation of 1847-71, as in the Orders of 
the Central Authority. The policy of the Central Authority, so 
far as it appears from the documents, continued to be to permit 
able-bodied independent women unconditionally to receive out- 
door relief, whether or not they were in receipt of wages, so far as 
concerned the unions under the Outdoor Eelief Eegulation Order; 
and to forbid outdoor relief to such women in unions under the 
Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order, whether or not this Order 
was accompanied by an Outdoor Labour Test Order (for men).^ 

^ On Vagrants and Tramps, by T. Barwick L. Baker (Manchester Statistical 
Society, 1868-9, p. 62). 

2 Mr. Goschen (President of Poor Law Board), 13th May, 1870, Hansard, 
vol. 201, pp. 660-2. 

3 The prohibition was made even more embracing in the Official Circular for 
April and May 1848 (Nos. 14 and 15, KS., pp. 227-8), where the term "able- 
bodied" (though the Central Authority expressed itself as willing to consider relief 
by gifts of clothing in special cases) was held to include females, not sick or dis- 
abled, who were nevertheless unable to earn sixpence a day at field work ; "young 
females " just emancipated ; persons of weak constitution, or having frequent 
ailments, Isut in receipt of " full wages " ; and persons not of weak constitutions, 
but employed at low wages from inaptitude to labour. Thus, for outdoor relief 
in the part of England to which this Order applied, the term "able-bodied" 
ceased to have any relation to any physical conditions whatsoever, but was used 
as a term covering a heterogeneous class of men and women, strong or weak, 



THE POOR LA W BOARD loi 

The women dependent on able-bodied men, whether themselves 
able-bodied or not, might be maintained in their homes, on 
condition of their husbands being employed in test work, not 
only in all unions under the Outdoor Eelief Eegulation Order, 
but also in those in which the Outdoor Belief Prohibitory Order 
was accompanied by a Labour Test Order. On the other 
hand, such women, however feeble or infirm, were not allowed 
to be maintained in their homes, even if their husbands were 
willing to do test work, in those unions in which the Outdoor 
Eelief Prohibitory Order was alone in force. No reason 
appears for these differences in policy as to the method of 
relief of identical categories of women in the different 
geographical regions into which the Central Authority had 
divided England and Wales. But although the policy of the 
Central Authority with regard to women remained, in each of 
the three regions into which England was divided by these 
Orders, apparently unchanged, the regions themselves, as we 
have mentioned, were being silently altered. The great 
enlargement of the territory to which the laxer Order was 
applied and the narrow limitation of the territory governed 
by the stricter Order, involved an enormous extension of the 
outdoor relief to women permitted by the Central Authority. 

In that part of England and Wales which was under the 
Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order, a widow without children 
continued to be allowed to receive outdoor relief only during 
the first six months of her widowhood. In all the rest of 
the country she continued to be allowed to receive outdoor 
relief indefinitely. Widows with children continued to be 
allowed to receive outdoor relief under all the Orders. 

We have, however, in these years, the first recognition (so 
far as we can trace) of the difliculty of the problem presented 
by the inadequate earnings of independent able-bodied women.-' 
In Bermondsey, in 1850, where there was no Order in force as 

healthy or subject to epileptic fits, able or unable to earn complete sustenance. 
On the other hand, within the workhouse, as we have seen, the same term was 
becoming more and more definitely restricted to adult persons on normal diet, 
requiring no medical treatment. 

1 Besides the widows and deserted wives, and the unmarried mothers, the 
class of able-bodied single women unencumbered by childi'en, in receipt of relief, 
was not insignificant. In 1859 there were 5173 such in receipt of outdoor 
relief (Twelfth Annual Eeport, 1859-60, p. 15 ; see also corresponding figures in 
Thirteenth Annual Report, 1860-1, p. 13). 



I02 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

to outdoor relief, the Central Authority was forced to face the 
problem presented by " widows and other females who, though 
in very constant work as sempstresses or shirtmakers," 
obtained so trifling a remuneration as to be unable to live. 
The Central Authority admitted that it was lawful to grant 
them relief, but discouraged this course, " persuaded that the 
practice of making up insufficient earnings by outdoor relief 
must tend to produce and perpetuate the evil." The guardians 
A were advised to refuse partial relief, so that some of the women 
might be wholly maintained in the workhouse and so taken off 
the labour market, when pressure of competition on the others 
would be thereby relieved and their wages would rise. The 
Central Authority did not, however, take the responsibility of 
issuing an Order specially enforcing this policy ; and it is to 
be noted (as already mentioned) that by gradually substituting 
the Outdoor Eelief Eegulation Order for the Outdoor Eelief 
Prohibitory Order, the Central Authority was, in fact, retreating 
from the advice to the Bermondsey Guardians of 1850.-^ 

Not until 1869 (so far as we can trace) did the Central 
Authority face the problem presented by the widow with 
children. Mr Goschen's celebrated Minute of November 20 th 
1869, incidentally referred (as a frequent exception to the 
rule against a "rate in aid of wages ") to the grant of partial 
relief " in the case of widows with families, where it is often 
manifestly impossible that the woman can support the family." 
Mr. Goschen does not appear to have made any definite 
suggestion of an alternative policy in these cases. He seems 
to have regarded it as merely an exception, of no great import- 
ance. But the Holborn Board of Guardians, in their reply to 
the Circular, pointed out that " the exception of widows 
would of itself constitute so large a proportion that the rule is 
virtually swallowed up thereby." The Holborn Guardians, 
apparently understanding that the Central Authority was 
hinting at the stoppage of outdoor relief in these cases, also 
pointed out that " it would be impossible to find workhouse 
accommodation for over 20,000 widows in the Metropolis 

* In 1861, indeed, when the guardians asked advice of the Central Authority, 
the recommendation to offer relief in the workhouse was distinctly limited to 
able-bodied males (Poor Law Board to St. James's, Westminster, 19th January 
1861, in Thirteenth Annual Report, 1860-1, p. 35). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 103 

and their 60,000 children." These figures were indeed 
exaggerated ; but it was incidentally observed by the Central 
Authority itself that " the amount of destitution in the country 
generally, caused by the death, absence, or desertion of the male 
head of the family ... we should estimate ... to be 35 
per cent of the whole." ^ In 1858, the "able-bodied widows j 
relieved out of doors " in the whole country numbered 50,468, j 
and the children dependent on them 126,658, making together j 
over 25 per cent of the total pauper population.^ In the Metro- j 
polls alone, out of an outdoor pauper population in 1869 of 
121,012 (excluding lunatics and vagrants), the women relieved 
because of the death or absence of their husbands numbered 
11,851, and their children 28,569, making a total of 40,420, 
or one-third of the whole outdoor pauperism.^ It was perhaps 
in view of such statistics that the Central Authority, in 
reporting on the reply of the Holborn Board of Guardians, 
among other replies, made no criticism of the grant of outdoor 
relief to widows with children, and offered no suggestion of an 
alternative policy. The only suggestions made were that 
there should be more relieving officers to check the overlapping 
of outdoor relief and private charity, and that the outdoor 
relief granted should be " adequate." * A special Commissioner 
(Mr. Wodehouse) was told off to make an official inquiry into 
the administration of outdoor relief, in which the facts were 
again laid bare.^ We do not find that the Central Authority — 
now fully aware that the category of widows with children, 
" where " (to use Mr. Goschen's words) " it is manifestly 
impossible that the earnings of the woman can support the 
family," comprised about 177,000 persons, and made up at 
least a quarter of the whole outdoor pauperism — issued any 
order prescribing what ought to be done in these cases, or 
ever made any authoritative suggestion on the subject. The 
Holborn and other boards of guardians had therefore warrant 
for believing that the grant of outdoor relief to widows with 
children, even in supplement of earnings, permitted as it was 

^ Twenty-second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. xxviii, 9, 17-22. 

2 Eleventh Annual Report, 1858, p. 166 ; see the corresponding statistics in 
the Twelfth and Thirteenth Annual Reports. 

3 Twenty-second Annual Report, 1869-70, p. xxi 
* Ihid. pp. xxxii-xxxiii, 9-30. 

5 Twenty-third Annual Report, 1870-1, pp. 32-93. 



104 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

by the Orders, continued, as from 1834 onwards, to have the 
sanction of the Central Authority. 

B. — Children 

It was with regard to children that the policy of the 
Central Authority in this period made the greatest advance. 
This, however, applies chiefly to the 40,000 children who were 
being relieved in institutions. With regard to the children 
being maintained on outdoor relief — who were at least five 
times as numerous — we do not find that the Central Authority 
in this period took any cognisance of their condition,^ except 
to some small extent with regard to their schooling. Even 
this was a new feature. In 1844, as already mentioned, the 
Central Authority had expressly refused to allow 2d. a week to 
be paid for the schooling of such a child, or even to permit 
that sum to be added to the outdoor relief to the parent with 
the same object.^ This decision was emphasised by a Circular 
in 1847, laying down that pauper children living at home 
were not to be educated at the expense of the poor rate.^ 
For years the Manchester Board of Guardians, under the 
leadership of Mr. Hodgson, had tried to get some of their 
outdoor pauper children to school, the guardians actually 
maintaining a primitive day school of their own for this 
purpose. The Central Authority refused to sanction this 
experiment, forbade its extension, questioned the lawfulness of 
the guardians' action, and between 1850 and 1855 seems 
always to have been complainiug about it.* In 1855, how- 

^ The Central Authority observed in 1858 that "more than one-third of the 
paupers are children under sixteen." The numbers at that date were 44,989 
indoors, and 263,994 out of doors, or 37 '4 per cent of the whole (Eleventh 
Annual Report, 1858, p. 166). It is not clear to us whether this total of 
children on outdoor relief includes in all cases the children of men in receipt of 
medical relief only. 

In 1869, in answer to Mr. Goschen's Minute, the Holborn Board of 
Guardians forced on the attention of the Central Authority the fact that they, 
like the other Metropolitan guardians, were allowing for each child on outdoor 
relief Is. and one loaf of bread. "No one can pretend," they said, "that 
this amount is of itself adequate support" (Twenty - second Annual Report, 
1869-70, p. 20). The Holborn Board of Guardians practically defied the 
Central Authority to find any other policy. The Central Authority did not 
reply to this challenge. 

2 Offidal Circular, 31st January 1844, No. 31, pp. 178-9. 

3 Ibid, 1st September 1847, No. 9, N.S. p. 131. 

* MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 1850-5. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 105 

ever, Parliament reversed the policy of non-responsibility for 
outdoor pauper children, so far as to allow the boards of 
guardians, if they chose, to pay for the schooling of such 
children between the ages of four and sixteen.-^ They were, 
however, expressly forbidden to make it a condition of relief 
that the child should attend school, for fear of exciting 
religious jealousies, all schools being then denominational. 
The Central Authority, in transmitting this statute (" Denison's 
Act") to the boards of guardians, laid stress on its permissive 
character. No instructions or suggestions were given as to 
the kind of school to be chosen, though if the guardians in 
their exercise of their discretion did pay the fees of any 
children, they were to satisfy themselves of their due attend- 
ance.^ But it trusted that "it will be soon brought into 
extensive operation," and presently 3986 out of the 200,000 
outdoor pauper children were at school.^ Special efforts were 
made during the Lancashire cotton famine to get the Act 
carried out,^ and gradually more of the boards of guardians 
adopted the policy.^ In 1870 the Elementary Education 
Act made education compulsory over a large part of the 

1 18 & 19 Vic. c. 34 (Education of Poor Children Act 1855). "An enact- 
ment involving the important admission that want of education was a form of 
destitution, which ought to be adequately relieved " {History of the English 
Poor Law, by T. Mackay, 1899, vol. iii. p. 428). 

2 Circular of 9th January 1856, in Ninth Annual Keport, 1857, pp. 13, 
15. In 1856 it was reported that there were in Lancashire and the West 
Biding 48,412 children on outdoor relief, of whom about 30,000 ought to be 
at school. Yet down to December 1855, the boards of guardians had taken 
no steps to get them to school, in spite of the inspector's protests (Eighth 
Annual Report, 1855, p. 63). 

3 House of Commons Return, No. 437 of 1856 ; Ninth Annual Report, 
p. 8. Newcastle- on -Tyne adopted it at once (MS. Minutes, Newcastle Board 
of Guardians, 10th October 1855). 

* Fifteenth Annual Report, 1862-3, p. 18 ; Circular of 29th September 
1862. 

5 MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 9th October 1862. The 
Manchester Guardians, whose early school experiment we have already men- 
tioned, largely nullified their own action (and apparently contravened the spirit, 
if not the letter of the law), by insisting on the attendance of the outdoor 
paujiers exclusively at the guai'dians' own school, which gave "undenomina- 
tional " religious instruction, and refusing to pay fees for children to go to any 
other schools (except for a short time in 1862-3 when their own schools were 
over-full). In vain did the Roman Catholics and the Manchester and Salford 
Education Aid Society protest, pointing out that the children were in con- 
sequence gromng up untaught \ihid. 26th May, 23rd and 30th June, and 
10th November 1864 ; 19th June 1865). The Central Authority does not 
appear to have intervened. 



io6 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

country, and authorised boards of guardians not only to pay 
fees, but also to make attendance at school a condition ol 
relief. This, however, came as part of the educational policy 
of Parliament, not as part of the Poor Law policy of the Central 
Authority. So far as these children were concerned (though 
nominal fees continued to be paid out of the poor rate until 
1891), the provision of schooling became merged in the 
general com.munistic provision of schooling for the whole popula- 
tion. By this beginning of communistic provision of education 
for the whole population (completed by the Free Education 
Act of 1891), the Poor Law authorities were enabled to 
escape — so far as education was concerned — from the 
embarrassing dilemma of either placing the pauper child in a 
position of vantage, or of deliberately bringing up the quarter 
of a million pauper children in a state of ignorance similar to 
that of the children of the poorest independent labourer prior 
to 1870. In respect of everything but education the problem 
remained. So far as regards the couple of hundred thousand 
children maintained on outdoor relief, the Central Authority 
left the boards of guardians without advice on this dilemma. 

Passing now to the 40,000 children in Poor Law 
institutions, we have described how, between 1834 and 1847, 
the Central Authority, in disregard of the recommendations of 
the 1834 Report,^ had adopted the policy of having one 
common workhouse for each union, under a single head, and 
with an almost identical regimen for all classes of inmates. 
It was necessarily incidental to the policy of the Outdoor Relief 
Prohibitory Order which was then widely prevalent, that the 
wife and children of the destitute man should be relieved only 
in the workhouse. These institutions came, therefore, to be 
the homes and places of education of not only orphans and 
foundlings, but also of tens of thousands of other children, 
who were often immured in them from birth until they could 
be placed out in service. Apparently the idea of one general 
workhouse for each union, under one uniform discipline, was 
too deeply rooted in the Poor Law Commissioners to allow of 
any provision being made for children in the Orders concerning 

1 That the children should be accommodated in a separate building, imder 
a separate superintendent, and educated by " a person properly qualified to act 
as a schoolmaster " (page 307 of Report of 1834, reprint of 1905). 



THE POOR LA IV BOARD 107 

workhouse management. No provision was made for the 
children going out for walks or games or play.^ No Order 
required the guardians to appoint a qualified schoolmaster, or, 
indeed, any teacher at all, or to buy any school-books. Year 
after year the returns from many unions continue to state 
" No teachers in workhouse," without evoking from the Central 
Authority any compulsory Order.^ 

It is to the credit of the new Poor Law Board that it at 
once admitted that the much-vaunted general workhouse 
system was, so far as the children were concerned, simply 
manufacturing paupers. " Too many of those brought up in 
the workhouse," said Mr. Charles Buller in 1848, "were 
marked by a tendency to regard the workhouse as their natural 
and proper home. . . . They had been accustomed to the work- 
house from their earliest infancy and .... to the confine- 
ment, .... and when they became adults there was nothing 
to deter them from entering it." ^ The remedy now proposed 
was the removal of all children from the workhouses to separate 
Poor Law schools, and their education, irrespective of cost, in 
such a way " as may best tend to raise them from the class 
of paupers to that of independent labourers and artisans." * 
To attain this end the Central Authority secured another 
statute in amendment of the hitherto abortive Act of 1844, 
permitting the establishment of " district schools " by com- 

' The children in the Bakewell "Workhouse were found, in 1855, to be in a 
dreadful state of health, owing to the literal application throughout the work- 
house of the principles of the General Consolidated Oi-der of 1847. The 
inspector protested at last, and recommended special arrangements for the 
children in the way of more nourishing diet and outdoor exercise. The 
guardians framed a new dietary, ordered "the swings, etc. recommended by 
the inspector," and directed the schoolmistress "to take the girls out for a 
walk every day when the weather is fine" (MS. Minutes^ Bakewell Boaid of 
Guardians, 1st October 1855 and 29th September 1856.) 

2 From 1846 onwards the Committee of the Privy Council on Education 
had, as part of the nation's educational policy, actually made grants to the 
boards of guardians to pay the salaries of qualified workhouse schoolmasters and 
schoolmistresses. In 1848 it was announced to the boards of guardians that, 
whereas "no comprehensive effort has hitherto been made" to raise the 
standard of efficiency, henceforth the inspector of pauper schools will examine 
the schools and the qualifications of the teachers as part of the conditions 
for sharing in the grant (MS. Minutes, Newcastle Board of Guardians, 31st 
March 1848). 

3 Hansard, vol. 100, p. 1217 (8th August 1848). 

* Third Annual Report, 1850, p. 6. Few children of independent labourers' 
families could at that date rise to be artisans. 



io8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

binations of unions.^ But what enabled this policy to be 
begun in the teeth of persistent opposition was a terrible 
outbreak of cholera at Mr. Drouet's establishment at Tooting, 
where the pauper children of many parishes had continued 
(as a survival of the old Poor Law, not yet interfered with by 
the Central Authority) to be " farmed out." ^ 

In the course of the same year the Central Authority 
succeeded in forming half-a-dozen school districts, and 
approved the establishment of a gigantic boarding-school for 
each of them, accommodating 800, and even 1000 children. 
The General Order issued in 1849 for the government of 
these " district schools " did not prescribe the details of 
administration so precisely as did the General Consolidated 
Order of 1847 ; and much latitude was left to the enterprise of 
the governing body. Against the formation of these school 
districts the boards of guardians successfully rebelled, much 
preferring to have a separate school for each union, and outside 
London this was the system generally adopted by the more 
populous unions. These separate schools, which were in all 
cases distinct from the workhouse, were regulated by special 
Orders, providing in similar general terms for the elements of 
good administration, but also leaving much to the discretion of 
the guardians.^ The Central Authority now pressed the policy 

1 Poor Law (Schools) Act 1848 (11 & 12 Yic. c. 82). 

2 Second Annual Report, 1849, p. 13. The Central Authority, which had 
for fourteen years let the establishments alone, now used its influence against 
them. Mr. Drouet's was closed. Another similar contractor's establishment 
(Mr. Aubin's at Norwood) was presently taken over by the Committee of the 
Central London School District and continued as a district school, with Mr. 
Aubin as salaried superintendent. Three or four other small places were dis- 
continued. Two others at Margate, used for sick and convalescent young 
paupers, continued with the approval of the Central Authority. An act of 
Parliament (12 & 13 Vic. c. 13) was passed for their regulation (Second 
Annual Report, 1849, pp. 16-17). 

2 The Manchester Board of Guardians had had its own boarding-school at 
Swinton since 1844, where, on the advice of Mr. Tufnell (assistant Poor Law 
inspector), the children were eighteen hours a week "at school" and eighteen 
hours "at labour" (MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 22nd 
August 1844). For the next few years we see them taking great pride in this 
school, and receiving the highest commendation from the inspectors. But the 
district auditor, in 1846, complains bitterly of the "costly establishment," 
warning the guardians that the expense of this school has " already reached an 
amount that is inconsistent with the class of children for whom the schools 
were designed," and is "creating dissatisfaction amongst the ratepayers" 
{^hid. 25th June 1846). And in 1861 the Central Authority itself deprecates 
the payment of so large a salary as £250 a year with board and lodging to the 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 109 

of separate schools on the boards of guardians at every 
opportunity.^ In 1856, for instance, we find it saying to the 
Holborn Guardians that it cannot " too strongly urge upon the 
guardians the importance of the children being so brought up 
as to preserve them, as far as possible, free from the habits and 
associations contracted in a workhouse ; and of their receiving 
such instruction as will fit them to earn their own livelihood. 
These objects will be best secured by the removal of the 
children to a separate school." ^ The Central Authority made 
useful suggestions, and it also encouraged improvements by 
laudatory description of the best schools in the Official Circular 
and the Annual Eeports.^ When it was objected by some 
boards of guardians that to teach writing and arithmetic to the 
pauper children was to give them advantages superior to those 
of the children of the independent labourer, the Central 
Authority replied that the provision of a good education for the 
children was not likely to encourage voluntary pauperism in 
the parents, and therefore there was no need to apply the 
principle of less eligibility in this case.* 

On the other hand, it has to be recorded that there were 
apparently opposing influences at work, as the Norwich Board 
of Guardians found to its cost in 1854. That board had in 
1846, apparently of its own accord, begun a most interesting 
experiment. As the workhouse was old and overcrowded, and 
obviously contaminating to the hundreds of children it con- 
tained, separate " Boys' and Girls' Homes " were established, 
away from the workhouse and under separate management. At 

headmaster, and urges the gi'eat importance of the industrial as distinguished 
from the intellectual training of the children {ibid. 10th and 16th January 
1861). 

1 In 1849, at the instance of the Committee of Council on Education, it 
issued a Circular extending to workhouse schools the privilege of getting at a 
low price the school-books of which the Government had arranged the publica- 
tion for elementary schools (Circular of 25th January 1849, in the Second 
Annual Report, 1849, p. 25). 

2 House of Commons, No. 50 of 1867, p. 158 (Letter to Guardians of the 
Holborn Union). 

3 Thus, in 1850, it is reported with laudation that "there are workhouses, 
like that of the Ateham Union, in which the children receive an education 
beyond all comparison better than is within the reach of labourers in any part 
of the county. In the girls' school of the Ludlow Union the children now 
receive an education in all respects superior to what the humbler ratepayers are 
able to purchase for their children. This high standard of workhouse education 
is fast ceasing to be exceptional" (Third Annual Report, 1850, p. 7). 

* Official Circular, No. 17, N.S. July and August 1848, p. 264. 



I lo ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 

these early types of Poor Law schools the children received 
both scholastic and industrial training. Their special feature 
was, however, that the boys of sufficient age were placed out 
in situations in the town, continuing to use the institution as 
their home, and contributing the wages that they earned 
towards the cost of their maintenance. The Norwich Guardians 
had found, as others have done since, that the old style of 
indoor apprenticeship was nearly extinct. They had resorted 
to what they called " outdoor apprenticeship." " In nineteen 
cases out of twenty the apprentices bound out . . . have been 
outdoor apprentices and have resided with their parents, and 
received certain weekly allowances. Masters will not consent 
to take into their houses pauper apprentices." ^ The Central 
Authority had objected to this, and had insisted on enforcing 
the usual apprenticeship order.^ Apparently it was not found 
possible to place boys out on this obsolete system, and the 
plan was adopted of getting the boys situations at wages, low 
at first, and not for some years amounting to enough fully to 
maintain them. This experiment had been undertaken with 
the full knowledge of the Poor Law inspectors, who constantly 
visited the homes, and who expressed themselves in high 
praise of their success, and it had even been specially described 
in print, with great commendation, by the inspector of pauper 
schools. Indeed, the eighty-seven boys who had already 
passed out of the homes (presumably as soon as their wages 
were big enough to keep them) were, with fewer than a dozen 
exceptions, well launched in the world and doing well. In 
1854, however, after eight years, the Central Authority 
intimated that the whole expenditure on the homes was illegal, 
as being unauthorised, and it was in fact disallowed. It added 
that, whilst it was prepared to sanction the continuance of the 
homes as mere schools, it could not permit them to be used 
as homes for the elder boys who went out to work. The 
grounds on which this decision was arrived at are not clear. 
In one place it is stated that the Poor Law Board " conceive 
it to be unjust to the children of the independent poor," 
presumably unjust to give the pauper boys such advantages. 
In another place it is stated that the Poor Law Board had 

^ MS. Minutes, Norwich Board of Guardians, 1846. 
2 Special Order of 30th January 1845. 



f 



* 



THE POOR LAW BOARD iii 

only been induced to permit the homes temporarily on the 
understanding that they were self-supporting — a contention 
hardly consistent with that of their illegality — whereas the 
boys who went out to work proved to cost something to the 
rates, though admittedly less than they would have cost in the 
workhouse. In a third place it is pointed out that the 
projected new workhouse will amply accommodate all the 
children, so that the homes will be unnecessary even as schools 
— an argument which seems inconsistent with the general 
policy of the Poor Law Board, unless we are to infer that it 
wanted only district schools by combinations of unions. We 
may note, as a final hint of the uncertainty that prevailed, 
that, after three years' correspondence, the Poor Law inspector 
advised the guardians to ask the Central Authority to sanction 
temporarily the continuance of the homes, as " it is quite 
possible .... that within the next two years the Legislature 
may resolve on communicating greater vitality to the provisions 
for the establishment of district schools." He had told the 
clerk to the guardians verbally that it was probable that 
Parliament would make it compulsory to provide for pauper 
children in establishments apart from workhouses, but that he 
saw " with regret how strongly different views are pressed " in 
regard to these homes ; and that the guardians would mean- 
while do well to delay proceeding with any but the adults' 
wards of the new workhouse.^ 

No such legislation as was thus foreshadowed took place, 
but the policy of removing the children from the workhouses 
was meanwhile incidentally promoted by an Act of 1849, 
which enabled use to be made of any establishment in 
which paupers were maintained by contract " for the educa- 
tion of any poor children therein." ^ Similarly the various 
Industrial Schools Acts opened up another class of schools to 

^ MS. Minutes, Norwich Board of Guardians, 3rd January and 7tli February 
1854, 1st April 1856, and 6th January 1857. We gather that the inspector's 
prescience was so far justified that the Norwich Guardians managed to retain 
their children's homes, which were in existence a generation later. 

2 12&13 Vic. c. 13, sec. 1 (The Poor Law Relief Act 1849). Out of this sprang 
the Certified Schools Act of 1862 (25 & 26 Vic. c. 43), and the provision in 
the Poor Law Amendment Acts of 1866 and 1868 (29 & 30 Vic. c. 113, sec, 
14, and 31 & 32 Vic. c. 122, sec. 23), enabling the Central Authority per- 
emptorily to order the removal to a certified school of a child of non-Anglican 
parents, when the board of guardians refused to allow religious freedom. 



112 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC Y 

pauper children.^ Finally, the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1869 
enabled training ships to be established by school districts and 
the Metropolitan Asylums Board for the education of pauper 
boys for the sea service.^ Already by 1856 it was reported 
with satisfaction that 78 per cent of the children under 
boards of guardians in the Metropolis were in separate schools 
— statistics, however, which continued to ignore the much 
larger number of children on outdoor relief, of whose existence 
the Central Authority only gradually became aware. ^ 

During the next twenty years we see this policy of separate 
boarding schools for such of the Poor Law children as were 
on indoor relief being constantly pressed on boards of guardians. 
The erection of these costly barrack schools, which were each 
regulated by a separate Special Order, differing slightly from 
school to school,* the steady improvement in their accommoda- 
tion and diet, and the continuous rise in the educational 
standard attained, which is the great feature of the ensuing 
period (though in accordance with the recommendations of the 
1834 Eeport), marks a definite abandonment, as regards the 
children, of the principle that the condition of the pauper 
should always be less eligible than that of the lowest class of 
independent labourer. But although in the course of the 
period 1847-71, in the Metropolis and various large towns, 
the greater number of the boys and girls between five and 
fourteen were removed from the workhouses to these " barrack 
schools " and similar institutions, such schools were not made 
compulsory ; the retention of children in the workhouse was 
not forbidden, and in hundreds of unions ^ they remained 

1 20 & 21 Vic. c. 48 of 1857 ; 24 & 25 Vic. c. 113 of 1861 ; 29 & 30 Vic. 
c. 118 of 1866. 

2 32 & 33 Vic. c. 63, sec. 11 (Metropolitan Poor Act of 1869) ; these 
ships were regulated by Special Orders. 

3 " The vast number of the (outdoor) pauper children in London is as 
melancholy as it is remarkable" (Twenty -second Annual Eeport, 1869-70, 
p. xxii). 

* &&e, for instance, as to the Swinton school of the Manchester Board of 
Guardians, Special Order of 6th July 1852 ; as to the Cowley school of the 
Oxford Board of Guardians, S])ecial Order of 24th November 1854 ; as to the 
Kirkdale School of the Liverpool Select Vestry, Special Order of 7th August 1856. 

^ Even so populous a town as Newcastle-on-Tyne refused to remove its 
children from the workhouse. We see the Poor Law inspector arranging a 
special visit to inspect them, and to confer with the guardians to urge a district 
school (MS. Minutes, Newcastle Board of Guardians, 10th August and 
21st September 1849). He then presses for a joint conference, which doea 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 113 

unaffected by the new policy of the Central Authority, which 
apparently felt unable to require the boards of guardians to 
adopt it. Even when the bulk of the children were placed 
in separate schools, there were always some in the workhouse 
itself ; and it is remarkable that the Central Authority made 
no attempt to modify for these the provisions of the General 
Consolidated Order of 1847, the effect of which upon the 
workhouse administration of the period we have already de- 
scribed.-^ 

Meanwhile the " workhouse schools " continued to improve 
very slowly in educational efficiency. The policy of the 
Central Authority was apparently to develop industrial train- 
ing — agricultural work, the simpler handicrafts, and domestic 
service — on the model of the " Quatt School " in Shropshire. 
Whether or not this industrial work militated against more 
intellectual accomplishments is a moot point, but we hear of " the 

nothing but adjourn (ihid. 17th January and 14th March 1850). Nothing is 
done. Six years after he finds the education is still in a deplorable state {ihid. 
29th August and 3rd October 1856), and gets the infants into a separate building. 
The guardians will not appoint a resident schoolmaster {ibid. 12th December 
1856 ; 23rd January, 29th May, 18th August, 4th September 1857). It takes 
three months and three urgent appeals to get them to appoint an additional 
infants' mistress {ihid. 19tli November 1858; 21st January, 11th February, 
25th February 1859). 

1 The disfavour with which, as we have noted, the Central Authority 
regarded apprenticeship, seems to have continued. The Special Orders of 
31st December 1844, and 29th January 1845 (issued to several hundred unions), 
severely resti'icting apprenticeship, and the amending Special Orders of 15th and 
22nd August 1845, which slightly mitigated these restrictions, were continued 
in force. Some of the provisions were relaxed in special cases (e. g. Special Order 
of 11th August 1855, to Leicester Union for a deaf and dumb girl). No 
General Order seems to have been issued on the subject between 1847 and 
1871 ; nor do we ti-ace any instructions or advice to boards of guardians as to 
the steps to be taken to place boys and girls out in advantageous callings. A 
few decisions on legal points tended rather to restiict apprenticeship. The 
Central Authority held that a child could not be apprenticed to domestic 
service as it was not a "trade or business"; nor bound to a married woman, 
nor beyond the age of twenty-one {Official Circular, No. 54, N.S., 1856, p. 38 ; 
ihid. No. 46, N.S., February 1851, p. 17; ihid. No. 34, N.S., February 1850, 
pp. 17-18). In 1851, Parliament passed the Poor Law (Apprentices) Act 
(14 & 15 Vic. c. 11), for preventing cruelty to apprentices; and the Central 
Authority, in transmitting this statute to the boards of guardians, carefully 
abstained from any indication of policy, as to how pauper children should 
be placed out in life (Circular Letter, 26th June 1851, in Fourth Annual 
Report, 1851, pp. 19-21). As a minor instance of the merging of branches 
of the Poor Law into the general treatment of all classes of the community, 
it may be noted that this Act was repealed in 1861, its provisions being prac- 
tically embodied in the Offences against the Person Act (24 & 25 Vic. c. 100, 
sec. 26). 



1 14 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

reports of ' the stagnant dulness of workhouse education ' which 
annually proceed from Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools." ^ 

Whether or not from a certain divergence of aim between 
the departments, the connection was in 1863 severed,^ and 
the Poor Law Board thenceforward had its own inspectors of 
Poor Law Schools, whose criticisms and complaints, all in favour 
of the large district schools as compared with the single union 
school, appear from 1867 onward in the Annual Eeports.^ 

At the very end of the period we may note the beginning 
of a reaction against the " barrack schools." It was pointed 
out by those acquainted with the Scottish system of boarding- 
out, as well as by persons experienced in English Poor Law 
administration, that these expensive boarding schools were 
not answering so well as their admirers claimed, especially 
as regards the girls. During 1866-9 the alternative of 
"boarding-out" children in private families at 4s. a week 
(now 5 s.) was warmly discussed, and experimentally adopted 
in a few places.* In 1869 the Central Authority so far 
yielded to the criticisms made upon these institutions as 
to permit, under elaborate restrictions and safeguards, the 
"boarding-out," in families beyond the limits of the union, 
of the comparatively small class of children who were actually 
or practically orphans.^ In these cases all idea of making the 
condition of the pauper child less eligible than that of the 
lowest independent labourer was definitely abandoned. The 
whole concern of the Central Authority was to see that the 
provision for the boarded-out child was good and complete. 
Far from being assimilated to the children of the lowest inde- 
pendent labourers, the boarded-out children were only to be 

1 Eighth Annual Report, 1855, p. 58. 

2 Circular of 5th September 1863 ; in Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863-4. 
pp. 19, 34. 

3 See the first set, in Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, pp. 128-58, 

^ Home Training for Pauper Children, 1866 ; Children of the State, by Miss 
F. Hill, 1869 ; The Advantages of the Boarding-out System, by Col. C. W. 
Grant, 1869 ; Pall 3fall Gazette, 10th April 1869 ; debate in House of 
Commons, 10th May 1869. 

6 Poor Law Board to Evesham Union, 3rd April 1869 ; House of Commons, 
No. 176 of 1869 ; Circular of 30th October 1869 ; Twenty-first Annual Report^ 
1868-9, pp. 25-6 ; House of Commons, No. 176 of 1870, pp. 123-189 ; Twenty- 
second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. lii-lv and 2-8. It was explained to boards 
of guardians that they were at liberty to board-out children within the area of 
the union at their own discretion, " no orders or regulations to the contrary 
having been issued" (Poor Law Board to Newcastle Union, I7th March 1871). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 115 

entrusted to specially selected families superior to the lowest, 
who undertook to bring them up as their own, to provide proper 
food, clothing and washing, to train them in good habits as well 
as in suitable domestic and industrial work, and to make them 
regularly attend school and place of worship. For all this the 
foster parents were to receive with each child a sum three or 
four times as great as was, with the sanction of the Central 
Authority, commonly allowed for the maintenance of each of 
the couple of hundred thousand children at that date on out- 
door relief; and which (as Professor Fawcett vainly objected) 
was far in excess of what the ordinary labourer could afford 
to expend on his own children.^ " A plan," observed Mr 
Fowle, " which cannot be defended on any sound principles of 
Poor Law." ^ " It is indeed impossible," says Mr. Mackay in 
this connection, " to deny that apparently every provision for 
pauper children may be regarded as a contravention of this 
rule. . . . Professor Fawcett's . . . argument has been tacitly 
neglected." ^ 

E. — TU Sick 

"We have shown that, between 1834 and 1847, it was 
not contemplated that persons actually sick would be received 
in the workhouse, and that there was no trace in the docu- 
ments of any desire on the part of the Central Authority to 
interfere with the usual practice of granting to them outdoor 
relief, which had not been in any way condemned or discredited 
by the 1834 Eeport. The same may be said of the Statutes, 
Orders, and Circulars of 1847-71. We find no suggestion 
that the boards of guardians ought not to grant outdoor relief 
in cases of sickness, or that sick paupers ought to be relieved 
in the workhouse. On the contrary, the exceptions specifically 
made in favour of sick persons seem to be even widened in 
scope. Thus, in 1848, the Central Authority laid it down 
that widows with illegitimate children were not to be refused 
outdoor relief, if the children were sick.* By the Outdoor . 
Belief Eegulation Order of December 1852, it was definitely \ 
provided that outdoor relief might be given in case of sickness ^ 

1 Pauperism, by H. Fawcett, 1871, pp. 79-91. 

2 The Poor Law, by Rev. T. Fowle, 1881, p. 144. 

3 History of (lie, English Poor Law, by T. Mackay, 1899, vol. iii. p. 434. 

* O^fficial Circular, Nos. 14 and 15, N.S. April and May 1848, p. 228. 



1 16 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

/ in the family, even if the head of the family was simultaneously 
j earning wages.^ The same policy was embodied in the 
corresponding General Order issued on 1st January 1869, 
to certain Metropolitan unions.^ Further, in the panic about 
cholera in 1866, the Central Authority informed the boards of 
guardians by circular that in cases of emergency they might 
call in any medical and other assistance that was needed, and 
even provide whatever sustenance, clothing, etc., was required,^ 
apparently irrespective of "destitution" and of all General 
Orders, etc., to the contrary. Moreover, early in this period 
\ we note the beginning of the special definition of " destitution " 
as regards medical relief which has since been acted upon, that 
is to say, the inability to pay for the medical attendance that 
the nature of the case requires. Thus it was declared by the 
Central Authority in 1848 that the parish doctor might attend 
sick servants living in their master's household, who were 
plainly not destitute in the ordinary sense, as not being 
without food and lodging, but who, if there were no wages 
due to them, might be unable to pay for medical attendance.* 
A similar line of thought may be traced in that provision of 
the Act of 1851 which authorised boards of guardians to 
make annual subscriptions out of the poor rate to public 
hospitals and infirmaries, to enable these non-pauper institu- 
tions the better to provide " for the poor." ^ " The sick wards 
of the workhouses," as the Central Authority explained in 
1869, "were originally provided for the cases of paupers in 
the workhouse who might be attacked by illness ; and not as 
State hospitals into which all the sick poor of the country 
might be received for medical treatment and care. So far is 
this, indeed, from being the case that at least two-thirds of 
the sick poor receive medical attendance and treatment in 
their own homes." ^ When in 1869-71, the Central 
Authority obtained elaborate reports showing, for all parts 
of England, the practice that prevailed of normally giving 
outdoor relief to the sick, and of taking them into the work- 

^ Outdoor Relief Regulation Order of 14th December, 1852. 

2 General Order of 1st January 1869, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 
1868-9, pp. 28, 79-82. 

3 Circular of 27th July 1866, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1866-7, p. 39. 
* Official Cirmlar, No. 20, N.S. Nov. and Dec. 1848, p. 297. 

6 Fourth Annual Report, 1851, p. 15;14&15 Vic, c. 105, sec. 4. 
^ Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, pp. 27-8. 



THE POOR LAW BOARD 117 

house infirmaries only when this was called for by {a) the 
nature of the disease, (&) the wishes of the patient, or (c) the 
nature of the home, and then only where suitable infirmary 
accommodation was available, there is no indication that any 
objection was entertained to the policy of outdoor relief to 
this large class.-^ 

What is new in this period is the appearance, as a positive 
policy, of bringing pressure to bear on the boards of guardians 
to improve the quality of the medical attendance and medicine 
supplied. This led to an explicit disavowal, so far as regards 
the sick paupers, of any application to them of the principle 
of making the pauper's condition less eligible than that of the 
lowest grade of independent labourers. It is noteworthy that 
this new departure applied to outdoor medical relief quite as 
much as to institutional medical treatment, in which it has 
subsequently been sometimes excused on the ground that the 
superior treatment is accompanied by a loss of liberty. The 
new departure took three directions. It was definitely laid 
down that the medical attendance afforded to the outdoor 
paupers was to be of good quality, and thus necessarily above 
that obtained by the poorest independent labourer, or even 
by " the poor " generally. This was the outcome of a long 
campaign on behalf of the poorer members of the medical 
profession, of which Wakley was the leader in the House 
of Commons, and the Lancet the efficient organ.^ In 1853 
the Poor Law Board considered that the qualifications of the 
Poor Law medical officers " ought to be such as to ensure for 
the foor a degree of skiU in their medical attendants equal 
to that which can be commanded by the more fortunate 
classes of the community."^ On the suggestion of the House 
of Commons Committee on Poor Eelief ^ it was authoritatively 
enjoined on boards of guardians in 1865 by a special 
circular that they were to supply freely quinine, cod-liver 
oil, and " other expensive medicines " to the sick poor ; ^ 

1 Twenty- second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. xxiv-xxvii, 38-108 ; Twenty- 
third Annual Report, 1870-1, pp. xliv-lii, 173-188. 

^ See, for instance. The Administration of MedicalMel'kf to the Poor — Reports 
ly the Poor law Committee of tlie Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, 
1842 ; Life and Times of Thomas Wakley, by S. Squire Sprigge, 1897. 

3 Mr. Baines (President of the Poor Law Board), 12th July 1853 ; Hansard, 
vol. 129, p. 138. 4 Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863-4, p. 108. 

6 Circular of 12th April 1865, in Eighteenth Annual Report, 1865-6, pp. 23-24. 



Ii8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

although it must have beeu plain that such things were 
beyond the reach of the independent labourers consulting 
the " sixpenny doctor," and even beyond the usual resources 
f of the provident dispensaries of the period.-^ Finally, in 
1867, the Metropolitan Poor Act authorised the establish- 
ment throughout London of Poor Law dispensaries. These 
' institutions were consistently pressed on the Metropolitan 
boards of guardians by the Central Authority, as having been 
successful in Ireland in reducing the amount of sickness 
among the poor, and as ensuring, not only regular and more 
successful medical attention, but also a sufficient supply of 
medicines and medical appliances of standard quality.^ By 
this elaborate systematisation of outdoor medical relief, the 
Central Authority not only put within the reach of the sick 
, paupers medical attendance far superior to that accessible to 
j the lowest grade of independent labourers, but even placed the 
I sick pauper in the Metropolis, without loss of liberty, in a 
I position equal to that of the superior artisan subscribing to a 
'^ good provident dispensary. 

The most remarkable change of front was, however, that 
relating to the institutional treatment of the sick, Down to 
1847, it is not too much to say that "what may be called the 
hospital branch of Poor Law administration"^ was ignored 
alike by Parliament, public opinion, and the Central Authority. 
We have shown that the institutional provision for the sick 
was not so much as mentioned in the Keport of 1834, and 
that it remained practically ignored in all the Orders, 
Circulars, and Eeports of the Poor Law Commissioners. The 
same is true of the first eighteen years of the Poor Law 
Board. Pew and far between are the incidental references 
to the " sick wards " of the workhouses. There is not even 
a hint of a suggestion that relief to the sick poor could most 
advantageously take the form of an offer of " the House." On 
the contrary, it was held in 1848 that applicants for 

* Some boards of guardians rebelled in this connection against a departure 
from the principle of "less eligibility" that they did not understand. When 
the circular of the Centi'al Authority inviting compliance with the recommenda- 
tion of the House of Commons Committee reached the Manchester Board of 
Guardians, it was referred to a committee. When the committee, after eighteen 
months' delay, recommended compliance, its report was rejected (MS. Minutes, 
Manchester Board of Guardians, 20th April 1865, and 25th October 1866), 

2 Twenty-second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. xliv-lii. 3 m^, p. x. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 119 

admission suiEfering from "fever" might even be refused 
admission, the relieving officer being enjoined to find lodging 
elsewhere for them/ though how this was to be done the 
Central Authority did not, in 1848, say. In 1857, the 
Metropolitan Boards of Guardians were recommended to send 
such cases to the London Fever Hospital^ (involving a pay- 
ment by the guardians of 7s. weekly). Finally, in 1864-5, 
we have an outburst of public indignation at the con- 
dition into which the sick wards of the workhouses had 
been allowed to drift. The death of a pauper in Holborn 
workhouse, and of another in St. Giles's workhouse, under 
conditions which seemed to point to inhumanity and neglect, 
led to an enquiry by three doctors (Anstie, Carr, and Ernest 
Hart), commissioned by the Lancet new spaper, the formation \ 
of an " Association for improving the condition of the sick . | 
poor," and a deputation to the Poor Law Board.^ The 
publication of various reports on the workhouse infirmaries, 
in which terrible deficiencies were revealed,* led to public 
discussion and Parliamentary debates. The Central Authority 
at once accepted the new standpoint. It made no attempt to 

1 Official Circular, N03. 14 and 15, N.S., April and May 1848, p. 237. 

2 Circular of 1st August 1857, in Tenth Annual Report, 1857, p. 37. The 
Central Authority did not, prior to 1867, face the responsibility of deciding to 
require boards of guardians to provide hospital accommodation even for infectious 
diseases. In 1863, indeed, under fear of smallpox, it got so far as to transmit 
to Metropolitan boards of guardians an alarmist letter by Dr. Buchanan, and 
to permit the taking of temporary premises for "the destitute poor attacked by 
contagious or infectious disease" (Circular of 30th April 1863, in Fifteenth 
Annual Report, 1862-3, pp. 37-9). We believe that practically nothing was 
done upon this. In 1866, when cholera was imminent, another Circular was 
sent which, significantly enough, makes no mention of temporary hospitals, 
but points to an increase of the outdoor medical relief, disinfectants, sustenance 
and clothing to meet the "great increase of destitution " to be apprehended. 
"As far as practicable . . . the admission of cholera patients into the work- 
house should be prevented " (Circular of 27th July 1866, in Nineteenth Annual 
Report, 1866-7, pp. 39-40). 

* See for all this the Eighteenth Annual Report, 1865-6, pp. 15-16 ; Nine- 
teenth Annual Report, 1866-7, pp. 15-18, 39 ; Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, 
pp. 25-28 ; Report of Dr. E. Smith on Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmaries and 
Sick Wards, in House of Commons, No. 372 of 1866 ; The Condition of the Side 
in London Workhouse Infirmaries (Association for the Improvement of the London 
Workhouse Infirmaries, 1867) ; Opinions of the Press upon the Conditions of the 
Sick Poor in London Workhoiises {ibid. 1867) ; The Management of the Infirmaries 
of the Strand Union, the Rotherhithe and the Paddington Workhouses (1867 ?). 

* The provincial newspapers took up the work that the Lancet had begun. 
On 31st January 1865, a long report appeared in the Manchester Examiner 
revealing serious deficiencies in the Manchester Workhouse sick wards. 



120 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

resist the provision of the necessarily costly institutional 
treatment for the sick poor, whether or not their ailments 
were infectious or otherwise dangerous to the public. The 
progressive improvement of " the hospital branch of Poor Law 
administration," to use the phrase of the Central Authority 
itself, which had in the preceding thirty years grown up 
unawares, was now definitely accepted as an important feature 
of its policy. Statutory powers were obtained for the 
provision of hospitals in the Metropolis by combinations of 
boards of guardians. Urgent letters were written pressing the 
boards of guardians to embark on the expenditure required to 
enable them to provide efficiently for the sick paupers.-^ From 
1865 onward, we see the Central Authority, on the public- 
spirited initiative of Mr, W. Eathbone and the Liverpool 
Select Vestry, pressing on the boards of guardians the employ- 
ment of salaried and qualified nurses to attend to the sick 
paupers, whatever their complaints.^ We have even in 1867, 
so far as the sick are concerned, the explicit disavowal by the 
Central Authority of the very idea of the deterrent workhouse, 
which had formed so prominent a part of the policy of 1834- 
1847. Mr. Gathorne Hardy, speaking as President of the 
Poor Law Board, said "there is one thing . . . which we must 

1 Twentieth. Annual Keport, 1867-8, pp. 17-21. This new departure of the 
Central Authority was long strenuously resisted by many of the boards of 
guardians who prided themselves on the purity of their Poor Law policy. Thus, 
the published complaints of the Manchester Workhouse Infirmary led to an 
inquiry by the inspector, who made various suggestions for improvement. The 
board of guardians, on the advice of their own medical officer, held that the 
existing conditions were sufficiently satisfactory. Finally, after fifteen months, 
the Central Authority censured the master, asked for more nurses and (while 
avoiding any censure of the guardians for their past policy) practically invited 
them to adopt the new standpoint (MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of 
Guardians, 1st February 1865 ; 22nd February and 3rd May 1866). Two 
years later, Manchester was still objecting. When a conference of important 
North Country boards of guardians in 1862 (W. Rathbone presiding) had 
recommended a national grant-in-aid to improve the "pauper hospitals," the 
Manchester Board of Guardians formally dissented (though now only by a 
majority of one), protesting: "That the much higher system of medical treat- 
ment and nm'sing and the other advantages sought to be introduced into 
workhouse hospitals by the proposed measures would tend to discourage the 
provident habits and self-reliance of the industrious poor by providing for them 
therein far better accommodation and treatment than they can usually secure for 
themselves in cases of sickness " (MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 
20th February 1868). 

2 Circular of 5th May 1865; Eighteenth Annual Report, 1865-6, pp. 16, 
24-5, 62-8 ; Nurses in Workhouses and Workhouse Infirmaries, by Miss 
Wilson, 1890. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD I2i 

peremptorily insist on, namely, the treatment of the sick in 
the infirmaries being conducted on an entirely separate 
system, because the evils complained of have mainly arisen 
from the workhouse management — which must to a great 
degree be of a deterrent character — having been applied to 
the sick, who are not 'proper ohjeds for such a system." ^ 

At first the new policy of the Central Authority for the 
institutional treatment of the sick took the form of the erection 
of special hospitals by " Sick Asylum Districts." ^ Presently, 
however, it came to the conclusion that this involved an 
unnecessary expense, and that it would be cheaper to revert 
to the idea of the Eeport of 1834, and use the existing work- 
house buildings by a system of classification by institutions,^ 
So definitely was this recognised as a reversion to 1834 that 
the Central Authority actually quoted the passage of the 1834 
Eeport in justification of its plan,* From this point may be 
dated the adoption of the policy of the provision, in connection 
with the workhouse, but practically as a separate institution, 
of what is now called the Poor Law Infirmary.^ In 1870 
the Central Authority took pains to collect special statistics 
as to the extent to which this recently developed provision 
for the sick was being taken advantage of. It observes (and, 
significantly enough, without expression of disapproval) that 
"the numbers on the lists of relieving officers may be swollen 

1 Hansard, 8tli February 1867, vol 185, p. 163. 

2 See, for instance, the Special Orders for the Poplar and Stepney Sick 
Asylum District, 23rd April and 16th May 1868, and 7th March 1871 ; and 
that for the Central London Sick Asylum District of 2nd May 1868. 

3 Twenty-first Annual Eeport, 1868-9, pp. 16-18 ; Circular of 30th October 
1869 ; Twenty-second Annual Eeport, 1869-70, pp. xxxvii-xli. 

* The "policy of providing workhouses for separate classes of the poor was 
fully recognised by the Commissioners of Inquiry into the operation of the 
Poor Law in 1834, who in their Eeport recommended 'that the Central Board 
should be empowered to cause any number of parishes to be incorporated for the 
purpose of workhouse management, and for providing new workhouses where 
necessary, and to assign to those workhouses separate classes of poor though 
composed of the poor of distinct parishes.' And in another part of the same 
Eeport they say that it appears to them ' that both the requisite classification 
and the requisite superintendence may be better obtained in separate buildings 
than under a single roof. Each class then might receive an appropriate treat- 
ment ; the old might enjoy their indulgences without torment from the 
boisterous, the children be educated, and the able-bodied subjected to such 
courses of labour and of discipline as will repel the idle and vicious ' " (Twenty- 
first Annual Eeport, 1868-9, pp. 16-17). 

* For a Special Order for such an Infirmary, see that of 27th June 1871. 



122 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

by poor persons who in previous years, though really poor, 
refrained from coming on the rates, but whom changes in the 
law or in the mode of its administration have since attracted." ^ 
" Workhouses," it notes, " originally designed mainly as a test 
for the able-bodied, have, especially in the large towns, been 
of necessity gradually transformed into infirmaries for the sick. 
The higher standard for hospital accommodation has had a 
material effect upon the expenditure. So again it has been 
considered necessary to attach to workhouses separate fever 
wards ; and wherever it was possible, these wards have been 
isolated by the erection of a separate building." ^ The extent 
to which the Poor Law had become the public doctor was 
indeed remarkable. The number of persons on outdoor relief 
who were "actually sick," apart from mere old age infirmity, 
and without their families, was found to be 13 per cent of 
the whole, equal to about 119,000. The number in the 
workhouses who were " actually sick," irrespective of " the 
vast number of old people disabled by old age, but not actually 
upon the sick list," varied in different unions from 14 to 39 
per cent in the provinces, and up to nearly 50 per cent in 
some Metropolitan Unions ; amounting, for the whole country, 
to about 60,000 actual sick-bed cases.^ Taking indoor and out- 
door patients together, the total simultaneously under medical 
treatment in the twelfth week of the half-year ending Lady 
Day 1870, was estimated at 173,000, being three quarters of 
one per cent, of the population, and perhaps one out of four 
of all the persons under medical treatment in the whole 
population. The story from this date is one continuous record, 
on the one hand of an ever-increasing number of patients 
treated, and, on the other, of never slackening pressure by the 
Central Authority to induce apathetic or parsimonious boards 
of guardians to expend money in making both the outdoor 
medical service and the workhouse infirmaries as efficient and 
as well adapted and as well equipped for the alleviation and 
cure of their patients — without the least notion of " the 
principle of less eligibility " — as the most scientifically efficient 

^ Twenty-aecond Annual Report, 1869-70, p. xi. 

2 Ibid. p. s. 

^ See the statistical inquiries summarised in tlie Twenty-second Annual 
Report, 1869-70, pp. xxiv-xxviii ; House of Commons, No. 312 of 1865 ; No. 372 
of 1866 ; No. 4 of 1867-8 ; No. 445 of 1868 ; House of Lords, No. 216 of 1866. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 123 

hospitals and State medical service in any part of the world. 
After 1867, indeed, there was developed, for the Metropolitan 
paupers suffering from infectious diseases, the splendid hospital 
system of the Metropolitan Asylums Board.^ At the very 
end of the existence of the Poor Law Board, Mr. Goschen 
seems almost to have been contemplating a yet further 
extension. " The economical and social advantages," he . 
observed, " of free, medicine to the poorer classes generally as ] 
distinguished from actual paupers, and perfect accessibility to 
medical advice at all times under thorough organisation, may be 
considered as so important in themselves as to render it 
necessary to weigh with the greatest care all the reasons 
which may be adduced in their favour." ^ 



F. — Persons of Unsound Mind 

It is difficult to discover what was the policy of the 
Central Authority during this period with regard to lunatics, 
idiots, and the mentally defective. Lunacy had always 
been, and remained, a ground of exception from the pro- 
hibition to grant outdoor relief. The provision of a lodging 
for a lunatic was, moreover, an exception to the prohibition of 
the payment of rent for a pauper. As a result of these 
exceptions, there were on 1st January 1852, 4107 lunatics 
and idiots on outdoor relief,^ and this number had increased 
by 1859 to 4892" and by 1870 to 6199.^ The Central 
Authority took no steps to require or persuade boards of 
guardians not to grant outdoor relief to lunatics, nor yet to get 
any appropriate provision made for them in the great general 

1 See the Special Orders of 15tli May, 18tli June, and 17th July 1867 ; and 
23rd December 1870. 

2 Twenty-second Annual Report of Poor Law Board (G. S. Goschen, president), 
1869-70, p. lii. Already in 1846 and again in 1853 the Central Authority 
had expressed its " decided opinion . . . that money judiciously expended . . . 
in the improvement of the sanitary condition of the poorer classes, and in the 
prevention or removal of causes of disease, has a du'ect tendency to diminish or 
prevent future destitution and pauperism ; and will thus be found to be most 
profitably expended, even in reference to the more direct object of the duties of 
the guardians" (Circular of 2l8t September 1853 ; in Sixth Annual Report, 
1853, p. 36). 

' Fifth Annual Report, 1852, pp. 7, 152. 
4 Twelfth Annual Report, 1859-60, p. 17. 
* Twenty- third Annual Report, 1870-71, p. xxiii. 



124 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

workhouses on which it had insisted. Parliament in 1862 (in 

order to relieve the pressure on lunatic asylums) expressly 

authorised arrangements to be made for chronic lunatics to 

be permanently maintained in workhouses, under elaborate 

provisions for their proper care.-^ These arrangements would 

have amounted, in fact, to the creation, within the workhouse, 

of wards which were to be in every respect as well equipped, 

as highly staffed, and as liberally supplied as a regular lunatic 

asylum.^ The Central Authority transmitted the Act to the 

boards of guardians, observing, with what almost seems like 

sarcasm, that it was not " aware of any workhouse in which 

any such arrangements could conveniently be made " ; ^ and 

the provisions of this Act were, we believe, never acted 

upon. "Whilst consistently objecting to the retention in 

workhouses of lunatics who were dangerous, or who were 

deemed curable, we do not find that the Central Authority ever 

insisted on there being a proper lunatic ward for the persons 

of unsound mind who were necessarily received, for a longer 

or shorter period, in every workhouse.'* Moreover, the Central 

Authority took no steps to get such persons removed to lunatic 

asylums. In 1845 it had agreed with the Manchester Board 

of Guardians (who did not want to make any more use of the 

county asylum than they could help) that they were justified 

in retaining in the workhouse any lunatics whom their own 

medical officer did not consider "proper to be confined" in 

a lunatic asylum.^ In 1849 it expressly laid it down that a 

weak-minded pauper or, as we now say, a mentally defective, 

must either be a lunatic, and be certified and treated as such, 

or not a lunatic, in which case no special treatment could be 

provided for him or her in the one general workhouse to which 

the Central Authority still adhered.^ We can find no indication 

of policy as to whether it was recommened that such mentally 

^ 25 & 26 Vic. c. Ill, sees. 8, 20, 31 (Lunacy Acts Amendment Act, 
1862). 

2 Sixteenth Annual Report, 1863-4, pp. 21, 38-9. 

3 Circular of 15th December 1862, in Fifteenth Annual Report, 1862-3, 
pp. 35-7. 

* On 1st January 1859, the number of persons of unsound mind in the 
workhouses was 7963 (Twelfth Annual Report, 1859-60, p. 17). This had 
risen by 1870 to 11,243 (Twenty-third Annual Report, 1870-71, p. xxiii). 

* Poor Law Commissioners, 24th December 1845 ; in MS. records, 
Manchester Board of Guardians. 

6 Opiial Circular, No. 25, N.S., May 1849, pp. 70-1. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 125 

defectives should be granted outdoor relief, or (as one can 
scarcely believe) required to inhabit a workhouse which made 
no provision for them.^ 

The explanation of this paralysis of the Central Authority, 
as regards the policy to be pursued with persons of unsound 
mind, is to be found, we believe, in the existence and growth 
during this period of the rival authority of the Lunacy 
Commissioners, who had authority over all persons of unsound 
mind, whether paupers or not. The Lunacy Commissioners 
had not habitually in their minds the principle of " less 
eligibility"; and they were already, between 1848 and 1871, 
making requirements with regard to the accommodation and 
treatment of pauper lunatics that the Poor Law authorities 
regarded as preposterously extravagant. The records of the 
boards of guardians show visits of the inspectors of the Lunacy 
Commissioners, and their perpetual complaints of the presence 
of lunatics and idiots in the workhouses without proper 
accommodation ; mixed up with the sane inmates to the 
great discomfort of both ; ^ living in rooms which the Lunacy 
Commissioners considered too low and unventilated, with 
yards too small and depressing, amid too much confusion and 
disorder, for the section of the paupers for whom they were 
responsible.^ Such reports, officially communicated ■ to the 
Poor Law Board, seem to have been merely forwarded for the 
consideration of the board of guardians concerned. But other 
action was not altogether wanting. Under pressure from the 
Lunacy Commissioners, the Central Authority asked, in 1857, 
for more care in the conveyance of lunatics ;* urged, in 1863, 
a more liberal dietary for lunatics in workhouses ; ^ in 1867 
it reminded the boards of guardians that lunatics required 
much food, especially milk and meat ; ^ it was thought " very 

1 In 1868 visiting committees were recommended to see that weak-minded 
inmates were not entrusted with the care of young children (Circular of 
6th July 1868 in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, p. 53). 

2 MS. Minutes, Plymouth Board of Guardians, 28th January 1846. 

3 Ibid. 5th November 1847. Some of the rooms were only 3|- feet long and 
7 feet wide, in fact, mere cupboards, which the Lunacy Commissioners said 
were unfit for any one. Yet nothing was done, and the "rooms" were still 
occupied in 1854 when the district auditor mildly commented on the fact 
(Letter Book, Plymouth Board of Guardians, August 1854). 

* Circular of 27th February 1857, in Tenth Annual Report, 1857, p. 34, 
6 House of Commons, No. 50, Session 1 of 1867, p. 247. 
6 Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, p. 60. 



126 



ENGLISH POOR LA IV FOLIC Y 



desirable that the insane inmates .... should have the 
opportunity of taking exercise " ; ^ it concurred " with the 
Visiting Commissioner in deeming it desirable that a 
competent paid nurse should be appointed for the lunatic 
ward," in a certain workhouse ; ^ it suggested the provision of 
leaning chairs in another workhouse ; ^ and, in yet another, the 
desirability of not excluding the persons of unsound mind 
from religious services.* In 1870 it issued a circular, trans- 
mitting the rules made by the Lunacy Commissioners ae to 
the method of bathing lunatics, for the careful consideration 
of the boards of guardians.^ But we do not find that the 
Central Authority issued any Order amending the General 
Consolidated Order of 1847, which, it will be remembered, 
did not include among its categories for classification either 
lunatics, idiots, or the mentally defective; and the Central 
Authority did not require any special provision to be made 
for them. 

The policy of the Lunacy Commissioners was to get 
provision made in every county for all the persons of unsound 
mind, whatever their means, in specially organised lunatic 
asylums in which the best possible arrangements should be 
made for their treatment and cure irrespective of cost, and 
altogether regardless of making the condition of the pauper 
lunatic less eligible than that of the poorest independent 
labourer. Unlike the provision for education, and that for 
infectious disease, the cost of this national (and as we may say 
communistic) provision for lunatics was a charge upon the 
poor rate. Under the older statutes, the expense of maintain- 
ing the inmates of the county lunatic asylums was charged 
to the Poor Law authorities of the parishes in which they 
were respectively settled ; and the boards of guardians were 
entitled to recover it, or part of it, from any relatives liable to 
maintain such paupers, even in cases in which the removal 
to the asylum was compulsory and insisted on in the public 
interest.^ The great cost to the poor rate of lunatics sent 



1 House of Commons, "No. 50, Session 1 of 1867, p. 444. 

2 Md. p. 426. 3 jj,ia. p. 407. « Ibid. p. 114, 

° Circular of 21st Marcli 1870, in Twenty-third Annual Report, 1870-71, 
p. 3. 

" There had apparently been a doubt as to whether a husband was legally 
bound to contribute towards the maintenance of a mfe who had been removed 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 127 

to the county lunatic asylums, and the difidculty of recovering 
the amount from their relatives, prevented the whole-hearted 
adoption, either by the boards of guardians, or the Central 
Authority, of the policy of insisting on the removal of persons 
of unsound mind to the county asylums. For the imbeciles 
and idiots of the Metropolitan Unions, provision was made 
after 1867 in the asylums of the Metropolitan Asylums 
Board,^ But no analogous provision for those of other unions 
was made. The result was that, amid a great increase of 
pauper lunacy, the proportion of the paupers of unsound 
mind who were in lunatic asylums did not increase.^ 
On the other hand the indisposition of the Central Authority 
to so amend the General Consolidated Order of 1847 as to 
put lunatics in a separate category, and require suitable 
accommodation and treatment for them — an indisposition 
perhaps strengthened by the very high requirements on which 
the Lunacy Commissioners would have insisted — stood in the 
way of any candid recognition of the fact that for thousands 
of lunatics, idiots, and mentally defectives, the workhouse had, 
without suitable provision for them, and often to the unspeak- 
able discomfort of the other inmates, become a permanent 
home. 

G. — Defectives 

During this period, the blind, the deaf and dumb, and the 
lame and deformed were increasingly recognised by Parlia- 
ment as classes for whom the Poor Law authorities might, 

under legal authority to a lunatic asylum. In 1850 tlie Central Authority got 
an Act passed to require him to pay (13 and 14 Vic. c. 101, sec. 4) on the 
ground that "great hardship has been frequently occasioned to parishes, who 
have been burthened with the heavy expense of such maintenance without the 
means of recovering from the husband even a partial reimbursement " (Third 
Annual Report, 1850, p. 16). 

1 Special Orders of 18th June 1867, 6th October 1870, 23rd December 
1870, 17th June 1871, etc. It may be noted that in 1862 the Guardians of 
St. George's, Southwark, provided a separate establishment at Mitcham for their 
idiotic and imbecile paupers, which was regulated by Special Order of 30th 
April 1862. 

'■^ On 1st January 1852, the number in the county or borough asylums 
was 9412, and in licensed houses 2584 ; making a total of 11,996 out of 
21,158 paupers of unsound mind (Filth Annual Report, 1852, p. 152). On 
1st January 1870, the number in asylums had risen to 26,634, and that in 
licensed houses had fallen to 1589, making a total of 28,223 out of 46,548 
paupers of unsound mind (Twenty-third Annual Report, 1870-71, p. xxiii). 



128 ENGLISH POOR LA IV FOLIC V 

if they chose, provide expensive treatment. This was done 
by authorising hoards of guardians, if they chose, to pay for 
their maintenance, whether children or adults, in special in- 
stitutions.-^ We do not find that the Central Authority 
suggested the adoption of this or any other policy or gave 
any lead to the boards of guardians with regard to these 
cases.^ 

H. — The Aged and Infirm 

We have shown that neither the Eeport of 1834 nor the 
Central Authority between 1834 and 1847 even suggested any 
departure from the common practice of granting outdoor 
relief to the aged and infirm. This continued, so far as the 
official documents show, to be the policy of the Central 
Authority during the whole of the period 1847-1871.^ The 
only two references to the subject in the Orders and Circulars 
of this period assume that the aged and infirm will normally 
be relieved in their own homes. Thus, in 1852, in comment- 
ing on the provision requiring the weekly payment of relief, 
the Central Authority said, " as to the cases in which the 
pauper is too infirm to come every week for the relief, it is on 
many accounts advantageous that the relieving officer should, 
as far as possible, himself visit the pauper, and give the relief 
at least weekly." ^ And in the first edition of the Out-relief 
Eegulation Order of 1852 (that of 25th August 1852) the 
Central Authority, far from prohibiting outdoor relief to persons 
" indigent and helpless from age, sickness, accident, or bodily 
or mental infirmity," formally sanctioned this practice, by 
ordering that "one third at least of such relief" should be 
given in kind (viz., " in articles of food or fuel, or in other 

1 25 & 26 Vic. c, 43, sec. 10 (Poor Law Certified Schools Act of 1862); 
30 & 31 Vic. c. 106, sec. 21 (1867) ; 31 & 32 Vic. c. 122, sec. 42 (1868). 

2 In 1849 the expenses of conveying a blind pauper to hospital were 
allowed to be paid under the head of non-resident relief in case of sickness 
(Official Cirmlar, No. 24, N.S., April 1849, p. 64). 

3 For instance, in 1861, the Central Authority, in reply to a request from 
the Guardians of St. James's, "Westminster, recommended the application of the 
workhouse test for the able-bodied males, but as regards the aged and infirm, 
warmly approved the policy of the guardians, to ' ' cheerfully supply all that 
their necessities and infirmities require" (Poor Law Board, 19th January 1861, 
in Thirteenth Annual Report, 1860-1, p. 36). 

* Letter to Board of Guardians, Barnsley Union, 26th October 1852, in 
House of Commons, No. Ill of 1852-3, p. 17. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 129 

articles of absolute necessity ")} the object being expressly ex- 
plained to be, not, as might nowadays have been imagined, the 
discouragement of such relief, but the prevention of its mis- 
appropriation.^ This provision was objected to by boards of 
guardians up and down the country, on the ground that it 
would be a hardship to the aged and inlirm poor. The Poplar 
Board of Guardians, for instance, stated " that there are a 
large number of persons under the denomination of aged and 
infirm whom the guardians have, in their long practical ex- 
perience, found it expedient and not objectionable to relieve 
wholly in money, feeling assured that it would be beneficially 
expended for their use, and that in consequence of their in- 
firmity the relieving ofl&cer or his assistant, if necessary, is 
thereby enabled to conveniently relieve them at their own 
house." ^ The Norwich Guardians stated that it would be 
difficult " to determine (especially for the aged and sick poor) 
what kind of food or articles should be given." They also 
communicated with forty other unions, summoning them to 
concerted resistance.^ A deputation " from most of the large 
and populous unions in the north of England . . . and from 
several Metropolitan parishes, representing in the aggregate 
upwards of 2,000,000 of population,"^ assembled in London, 
and objected to nearly all the provisions of the Order. 
Accompanied by about twenty -five members of Parliament, 
the deputation waited on the Poor Law Board, and specially 
urged their objection to being compelled to give a third of all 
outdoor relief in kind. After two hours' argumentative dis- 
cussion, Sir John Trollope said that the board would reconsider 
the whole Order, which need not in the meantime be acted 
upon ; and he hinted at a probable modification of the 
Article relating to relief in kind.® In response to these 
objections, the Central Authority does not seem even to have 

^ General Order of 25th August 1852, art. 1 (in Fifth Annual Report, 
1852, p. 17). 

2 Circular of 25th August 1852, in Fifth Annual Report 1853, p. 22. 

3 MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 18th October 1852. 
* Ibid. Norwich Board of Guardians, 5th October 1852. 

6 Ihid. 7th December 1852. 

^ Ihid. ; also Circular of 14th December 1852, in Fifth Annual Report, 
1852, pp. 28-31. The Salford Union took part in a meeting of Lancashire 
Guardians on the subject (Salford Union to Poor Law Board, 26th October 
1855, in Eighth Annual Report, 1855, p. 50). 

K 



I30 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

suggested that outdoor relief to the aged and infirm was 
contrary to its principles. It first intimated its willingness to 
modify the Order if its working proved to be " accompanied 
with hardship to the aged or helpless poor " ^ and then within 
a few weeks withdrew the provision altogether as regards any 
but the able-bodied.^ It was expressly explained that the 
Order, as re-issued, was intended as a precaution " against the 
injurious consequences of maintaining out of the poor rate 
able-bodied labourers and their families in a state of idleness," 
and that the Central Authority left to the boards of guardians 
" full discretion as to the description of relief to be given to 
indigent poor of every other class." ^ From that date down to 
the abolition of the Poor Lav/ Board in 1871, we can find in 
the documents no hint or suggestion that it disapproved of 
outdoor relief to the aged and infirm. On 1st January 1871, 
nearly half the outdoor relief was due to this cause.* 

I. — Non-Residents 

There was no change in the policy of preventing relief to 
paupers not resident within the union. The Outdoor Eelief 
Eegulation Order of 1852 embodied the prohibition with the 
same exceptions as had been contained in the Outdoor Eelief 
Prohibitory Order of 1844, omitting, however, that of widows 
without children during the first six months of their widow- 
hood. But, as has been already mentioned, at the very end of 
the period the Boarding-Out Orders of 1869, etc., permitted 
children to be maintained outside the union. 

J. — The Workhouse 

We have seen that between 1834 and 1847 the Central 
Authority turned directly away from the express recommenda- 
tions of the 1834 Eeport with regard to the institutional 
accommodation of the paupers. Instead of a series of separate 

^ Letter to Board of Guardiaus, Ashton-under-Lyne Union, 8tli October 
1852 ; in House of Commons, No. Ill of 1852-3, p. 14. 

2 General Order, 14th December 1852, and Circular of same date, in Fifth 
Annual Report, 1852, pp. 24, 29. 

3 Circular of 14th December 1852, in Fifth Annual Report, 1852, p. 29. 

* Out of a total of outdoor paupers on 1st January 1871 (exclusive of 
vagrants and the insane) of 880,709, the destitution was "caused by old age 
or permanent disability" in the case of 423,206, viz. 117,681 men, 265,638 
women, and 39,887 children dependent on them (TSventy - third Annual Report, 
1870-1, p. 378). 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 131 

institutions appropriately organised and equipped for tlie 
several classes of the pauper population — the aged and 
infirm, the children, and the adult able-bodied — the Central 
Authority had gob established, in nearly every union, one 
general workhouse ; nearly everywhere " the same cheap, 
homely building," with one common regimen, under one 
management, for all classes of paupers. 

The justification for the policy which, as we have seen, 
Sir Francis Head induced the Central Authority to substitute 
for the recommendations of the 1834 Eeport, may have been 
his confident expectation, in 1835, that the use of the 
workhouse was only to serve as a " test," which the applicants 
would not pass, and that there was accordingly no need to 
regard the workhouse building as a continuing home.-^ This 
was the view taken by Harriet Martineau, who, in her Poor 
Law Tales, describes the overseer of the depauperised parish 
as locking the door of the empty workhouse when it had 
completely fulfilled its purpose of a test by having made all 
the applicants prefer and contrive to be independent of poor 
relief ' By 1847, however, it must have been clear that, even 
in the most strictly administered parishes, under the most 
rigid application of the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order, 
there would be permanently residing in the workhouse a 
motley crowd of the aged and infirm unable to live in- 
dependently ; the destitute chronic sick in like case ; the 
orphans and foundlings ; such afflicted persons as the village 
idiot, the senile imbecile, the deaf and dumb, and what we 
now call the mentally defective ; together with a perpetually 
floating population of acutely sick persons of all ages ; vagrants ; 
girls with illegitimate babies ; wives whose husbands had 
deserted them, or were in prison, in hospital, or in the Army 
or Navy ; widows beyond the first months of their widowhood 
and other women unable to earn a livelihood ; all sorts of 
" ins and outs " ; and the children dragging at the skirts of 
all these classes. The workhouse population in 590 unions 
of England and Wales on 1st January 1849, was, in fact, 

1 It must be 161001111)616(1 that, as already mentioned, it was no part of the 
jjolicy of the Central Authority to relieve in the workhouse any of the aged 
and infirm or of the sick who preferred to remain outside, and who were (so 
far as the published documents show) to continue to receive outdoor relief. 



1 32 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC Y 

121,331.^ The condition of these workhouse inmates, and the 
character of the regimen to which they were subjected, had 
been brought to public notice in 1847 in the notorious 
Andover case. The insanitary condition of the workhouses 
of the period as places of residence, and, in particular, their 
excessive death-rate, was repeatedly brought to notice not only 
by irresponsible agitators, but also by such competent statistical 
and medical critics as McCulloch and Wakley.^ But the 
very idea of the general workhouse was now subjected to 
severe criticism. " During the last ten years," said the 
author of an able book in 1852, "I have visited many prisons 
and lunatic asylums, not only in England, but in France and 
Germany. A single English workhouse contains more that 
justly calls for condemnation in the principle on which it is 
established than is found in the very worst prisons or public 
lunatic asylums that I have seen. The workhouse as now 
organised is a reproach and disgrace peculiar to England ; 
nothing corresponding to it is found throughout the whole 
continent of Europe. In France the medical patients of our 
workhouses would be found in ' hopitaux ' ; the infirm aged 
poor would be in hospices ; and the blind, the idiot, the 
lunatic, the bastard child and the vagrant would similarly be 
placed each in an appropriate but separate establishment. 
With us a common Malebolge is provided for them all ; and in 
sonie parts of the country the confusion is worse confounded by 
the effect of Prohibitory Orders, which, enforcing the application 
of the notable workhouse-test, drive into the same common 
sink of so many kinds of vice and misfortune the poor man 
whose only crime is his poverty, and whose want of work alone 
makes him chargeable. Each of the buildings which we so 
absurdly call a workhouse is, in truth (1) a general hospital; 
(2) an almshouse; (3) a foundling house; (4) a lying-in hospital; 
(5) a school house; (6) a lunatic asylum; (7) an idiot house; 
(8) a blind asylum; (9) a deaf and dumb asylum ; (10) a work- 
house ; but this part of the establishment is generally a lucus 
a non lucendo, omitting to find work even for able-bodied 
paupers. Such and so varied are the destinations of these 

1 Second Annual Report, 1849, p. 159. 

2 Life and Times of Thomas Wakley, by S. Squire Sprigge, 1897. See, for 
a contemporary indictment, The Russell Predictions on the Working Classes,, 
the National Debt and the New Foot Law Dissected, by Jolin Bowen, 1850. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 133 

common receptacles of sin and misfortune, of sorrow and suffer- 
ing of the most different kinds, each tending to aggravate the 
others with which it is unnecessarily and injuriously brought 
into contact. It is at once equally shocking to every principle 
of reason and every feeling of humanity, that all these varied 
forms of wretchedness should be thus crowded together into 
one common abode, that no attempt should be made by law 
to classify them, and to provide appropriate places for the 
relief of each." -^ 

During the period now under review, 1847-71, we see 
the Central Authority becoming gradually alive to the draw- 
backs of this mixture of classes. At first its remedy seems 
to have been to take particular classes out of the workhouse. 
We have already described the constant attempts, made from 
the very establishment of the Poor Law Board, to have the 
children removed to separate institutions and to get the 
vagrants segregated into distinct casual wards. It was the 
resistance and apathy of the boards of guardians that prevented 
these attempts being particularly successful,^ and the Central 
Authority appears not to have felt able to issue peremptory 
orders on the subject. The policy of the Lunacy Commis- 
sioners drew many lunatics out of the workhouses, but this 
was more than made up by the increasing tendency to seclude 
the village idiot, so that the workhouse population of unsound 
mind actually increased. 

We do not find that there was during the whole period 
any alteration of the General Consolidated Order of 1847, 
upon which the regimen of the workhouse depended. In spite 
of the increasing number of the sick and the persons of 
unsound mind, the seven classes of workhouse inmates 
determined by that Order were adhered to, and received no 
addition, though the Poor Law Board favoured the subdivision 
of these classes so far as it was reasonably possible in the 
existing buildings, especially in the case of women. In a 
letter of 1854^ it lamented the evil which arose "from the 

^ Pauperism atid Poor Laws, by Robert Pashley, Q.C., 1852, pp. 364-5. 

2 On 1st January 1871 we estimate that of the 55,832 children on 
indoor relief, only 4979 were in district schools, and some 9000 in union 
boarding schools, leaving about 40,000 living in the workhouses. 

^ Regulations relating to the Classification of Workhouse Inmates, in House 
of Commons, No. 485 of 1854. 



134 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

association of girls, when removed from workhouse union 
schools, with women of bad character in the able-bodied 
women's ward," and wished that it could be prevented. At 
the same time it stated that in the smaller workhouses it was 
" often impracticable to provide the accommodation " which 
would be necessary in order to maintain a complete separation; 
and while pointing out that it was legally competent for the 
guardians (with its approval) to erect extra accommodation, 
by means of which this contamination could be avoided, the 
Central Authority did not even remotely suggest that it was 
the guardians' duty so to do. By 1 8 6 it " had given in- 
structions that every new workhouse should be so constructed 
as to allow of the requisite classification." ^ 

From about 1865 onwards we note a new spirit in all 
the circulars and letters relating to the workhouse. The 
public scandal caused by the Lancet inquiry into the 
conditions of the sick poor in the workhouses, and the official 
reports and Parliamentary discussions that ensued, seem to 
have enabled the Central Authority to take up a new attitude 
with regard both to workhouse construction and workhouse 
regimen. From this time forth the workhouse is recognised 
as being, not merely a " test of destitution " for the able- 
bodied, which they were not expected long to endure, but also 
the continuing home of large classes of helpless and not 
otherwise than innocent persons. "Able-bodied people," 
reported the Medical Officer in 1867, "are now scarcely at all 
found in them during the greater part of the year. . . . 
Those who enjoy the advantages of these institutions are 
almost solely such as may fittingly receive them, viz. the 
aged and infirm, the destitute sick and children. Workhouses 
are now asylums and infirmaries." ^ 

From now onwards we see the Central Authority always 
striving to improve the workhouse. In the Circulars of 1868 
much attention was paid to the sufficiency of space and 
ventilation. It was required that parallel blocks of building 
should be so far apart as to allow free access to light and air ; 
blocks connected at a right or acute angle were to be avoided. 

1 Mr. C. P. Villiers, Hansard, 4th May 1860, vol, clviii. p. 694. 

2 Dr. E. Smith, Medical Officer to Poor Law Board, in Twentieth Annual 
Report, 1867-8, p. 43. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 135 

Ordinary wards were to be at least ten feet high and eighteen 
feet wide, the length depending on the number of inmates ; 
300 cubic feet of space were required for each healthy person 
in a dormitory, 500 for infirm persons able to leave the 
dormitory during the day, and 700 in a day and night room.^ 
The Visiting Committee was to " ascertain not merely whether 
the total number for which the workhouse is certified has been 
exceeded, but whether the number of any one class exceeds 
the accommodation available for it." ^ No wards were to be 
placed side by side without a corridor between them; the 
corridors were to be six feet wide, and ordinary dormitories 
were to have windows into them. Windows and fanlights into 
internal spaces were to be made to open to be used as 
ventilators, and ventilation was also to be " effected by special 
means, apart from the usual means of doors, windows, and fire- 
places," air-bricks being recommended as a simple method.^ 
No rooms occupied by the inmates as sleeping-rooms were 
to be on the boundary of the workhouse site. Hot and cold 
water was to be distributed to the bath-rooms and sick wards. 
Airing yards for the inmates were to be " of sufficient size " — 
with a rider that " if partially or wholly paved with stone or 
brick or asphalted or gas- tarred they are often better than if 
covered with gravel." * Yards for the children, sick, and aged 
were to be enclosed with dwarf walls and palisades where 
practicable, presumably with the object of giving a look-out, 
and making the yard slightly less prison-like.^ " Small yards, 
and a work-room, and a covered shed for working in in bad 
weather," were to be provided for vagrants.^ For workhouses 
having a large number of children the Poor Law Board 
recommended, "in addition to the school-rooms, day-rooms, 
covered play-sheds in their yards, and industrial work-rooms." '^ 
The staircases were to be of stone ; the timber, Baltic fir and 

1 Circular of 15th June 1868, in IVenty-first Annual Eeport, 1868-9, pp. 
48-9 ; Circular of 29th September 1870, in Twenty-third Annual Report, 
1870-1, p. 9. This was the more important as Dr. Smith held that ^^ during 
the night at all seasons, and during a large part of the day in cold and wet 
weather, the windows cannot be opened with propriety " (Report of Dr. E. 
Smith on Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmaries and Sick Wards, in House of 
Commons, No. 372 of 1866, p. 53). 

2 Circular Letter of 6th July 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, 
p. 55. 3 Circular of 15th June 1868, in ibid. pp. 48-60. 

< Ibid. p. 50. 6 jiia, 6 ii,id, p. 51. 7 fbia, p. 49. 



136 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

English oak ; fire escapes were to be provided ; these and 
many other details were laid down, all tending to make the 
building solid and capacious.^ There was no mention of 
ornament, no regard to appearance, no hint that anything 
might be done to relieve the dead ugliness of the place ; 
but it must be recognised that the Central Authority had, by 
1868, travelled far from the "low, cheap, homely building" 
which it was recommending thirty years before.^ 

Separate dormitories, day-rooms, and yards (apparently not 
dining-rooms) were required for the aged, able-bodied, children, 
and sick of each sex, and these were the only divisions laid 
down as fundamental, but the Circular went on to recommend 
provision (1) "so far as practicable for the sub-division of the 
able-bodied women into two or three classes with reference to 
moral character, or behaviour, the previous habits of the 
inmates, or such other grounds as might seem expedient," and 
(2) " in the larger workhouses " for the separate accommodation 
of the following classes of sick — 

Ordinary sick of both sexes. 

Lying-in women, with separate labour room. 

Itch cases of both sexes. 

Dirty and offensive cases of both sexes. 

Venereal cases of both sexes. 

Fever and small-pox cases of both sexes (to be in a 
separate building with detached rooms). 

Children (in whose case sex was not mentioned).^ 
In the furnishing of the wards the simplicity of 1868 
was equally far removed from that of 1835. Ordinary 
dormitories contained beds 2 feet 6 inches wide, chairs, bells, 
and gas where practicable. Day-rooms were to have an open 
fireplace, benches, cupboards (or open shelves, which were pre- 

^ Circular of 15th June 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, p. 51. 

2 We soon see the effect of this action by the Central Authority in the 
rapid growth of the capital expenditure of the boards of guardians. The 
annual reports of the next few years record extensive new buildings. In the 
thirty-one years down to 1864-5, the total sum authorised for the building, 
altering, and enlarging of workhouses and schools had reached £6,059,571, 
or an average of £195,541 a year (Seventeenth Annual Report, 1864-5, 
pp. 328-9). Within six years this had risen to £8,406,215 (Twenty-third Annual 
Report, 1870-1, pp. 446-53). Of the new capital outlay in these six years of 
no less than £2,346,644 or £391,108 a year, half had taken place in the 
Metropolis, and a quarter in Lancashire. 

3 Circular of 15th June 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, pp. 47-8. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 137 

ferred), tables, gas, combs, and hairbrushes. " A proportion of 
chairs " were to be provided " for the aged and infirm " ; and 
of the benches, likewise, " those for the aged and infirm should 
have backs, and be of sufficient width for reasonable comfort." 
In the dining-rooms were to be benches, tables, a minimum of 
necessary table utensils, and if possible gas and an open 
fireplace. The sick wards were to be furnished with more care, 
and with an eye to medical efficiency. It is unnecessary to 
go into the long and detailed list of the medical appliances 
which were required. There is even some notice of appearances 
in a suggestion that " cheerful-looking rugs " should be placed 
on the beds, and of comfort in the arm and other chairs " for 
two-thirds of the number of the sick." There were also to be 
short benches with backs, and (but these only for special 
cases) even cushions ; rocking-chairs for the lying-in wards, 
and little arm-chairs and rocking-chairs for the children's sick 
wards.'^ Dr. Smith had further recommended a Bible for each 
inmate, entertaining illustrated and religious periodicals, tracts 
and books, games, and a foot valance to the bed to " add to 
the appearance of comfort." ^ These suggestions were not 
specifically taken up by the Central Authority, but Dr. Smith's 
report was circulated to the guardians, without comment.^ "We 
have the beginning, too, between 1863 and 1867, of the 
improvement of the food, which was regulated in each work- 
house by a separate Special Order, prescribing a dietary, 
differing widely from union to union.^ In 1866 the report 

1 Circular of 13tli June 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, pp. 44-6. 

2 Eeport of Dr. E. Smith on Metropolitan Workhouse Infirmaries and Sick 
Wards, in House of Commons, No. 372 of 1866, pp. 61-2. 

3 Circular of 20th July 1866, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1866-7, p. 39. 
* It appears from a Minute of Lord Ebrington that, on entering the Poor 

Law Board, he was much struck by there being no physiological information 
available in the office as to the proper amount of food required or as to the 
physiological equivalents of different foods. The dietaries had apparently all been 
sanctioned without reference to such an inquiry. He called lor a report, and, 
we believe, had an investigation made by Dr. Lyon (afterwards Lord) Playfair. 
The Report (signed Thomas Harries, and dated June 1st 1850) reveals the 
most astounding diflTerences between the amounts of food, the proportions and 
amounts of nitrogenous materials, and the cost of the dietaries sanctioned for 
529 unions. (Eighty-four unions had no dietary sanctioned.) In Berkshire, 
for instance, the Central Authority had approved of the pauper in the Cookham 
Union getting only 15-j»^ oz. of nitrogenous ingi-edients (per day?), whilst the 
pauper in the Wokingham Union was allowed 24,^ oz. In the Metropolis, the 
inmates of the West London Workhouse had been directed to exist on 14-j'^ oz. 
a day, whilst those in the Bermondsey Workhouse had been permitted to con- 



138 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of the medical officer in favour of skilled cooking, by a 
professional cook, instead of by a pauper inmate, really hot 
meals (even to the use of " hot water dishes "), and efficient 
service, so as to increase the comfort of the inmates, was 
circulated to the boards of guardians.^ After many reports 
and elaborate inquiries, the Central Authority in 1868 issued a 
Circular of very authoritative suggestions for a general 
improvement in the workhouse dietaries. After a protest that 
no cause had been shown for any fundamental change in the 
principles which had been hitherto recommended, it was urged 
that there were various points which the guardians should 
remember in framing dietaries. The first of these points 
was the addition of several classes who were to have separate 
dietaries, viz. : — 

(a) The aged and infirm not on the medical officer's book. 
(6) Inmates on the medical officer's book for diet only 

and not on the sick list, 
(c) Inmates allowed extra diets on account of employment, 

and those allowed alcohol for the same reason, 
(rf) Children aged nine to sixteen, if the guardians thought 

they should be separately dieted. 

(e) Sick diets to be framed by the medical officer as before. 

(/) Imbeciles and suckling women to be dieted as the aged, 

" with or without the substitution of milk porridge 

and bread at breakfast or supper or at both meals." 

sume 'i'l^ oz. It was found, contrary to the common belief, that the dietaries 
of the workhouses in the Metropolis and the great towns were, on an average, 
lower than those of rural unions. There had, moreover, been a total lack 
of quantitative definition of the ingredients of soups, puddings, etc., with the 
result of extraordinary diversity. Sometimes able-bodied women were allowed 
the same quantities as men ; sometimes much smaller quantities. We cannot 
trace whether any action was taken on this Memorandum. No General Order 
or Circular was issued on the subject at the time, or, indeed, for more than a 
dozen years ; and the workhouse dietaries remained extremely diverse. But 
the Central Authority doubtless acted on the information in its possession. In 
September 1850, for instance, it demurred to approving a dietary proposed by 
the Bradfield Guardians, on the ground that it was " so decidedly less nutritious 
than those of other unions, in fact, only half what is given in some, and more 
than a quarter less than the general average." The Bradfield Guardians 
triumphantly retorted that their proposed dietary for paupers provided more 
nourishment than the independent labouring classes of the neighbourhood got 
in their own homes ! (MS. Minutes, Bradfield Board of Guardians, 10th 
September 1850); which, considering the wages of the Berkshire farm labourers, 
is not unlikely to have been true. 

1 Circular of 14th September 1866, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1866-7, 
pp. 395-6. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 139 

Then followed various detailed suggestions, some of which 
dealt with ingredients and methods of cooking. Soup or 
broth dinners were not to be given more than twice 
a week ; nor were bread and cheese or suet pudding 
dinners, except to the able-bodied. Fresh vegetables 
were to be provided, if possible, five times a week, 
and boiled rice alone was not to be made a substitute for 
them. Eice pudding was not to be given as a diuner except 
to children under nine, and to them not more than twice a 
week. Children were not to have tea or coffee, except for 
supper on Sunday, but milk at breakfast and supper, and they 
were to be given two or three ounces of bread at 1 A.M. It 
was " suggested that tea, coffee, or cocoa, with milk and sugar, 
and accompanied by bread and butter or bread and cheese, 
should be allowed to all the aged and infirm women at break- 
fast and supper, and the same to aged and infirm men, or 
milk porridge with bread " might be given at one of those 
meals. The ordinary rations were — of meat (cooked, without 
bone), for men four ounces, for women three ounces ; of soup, 
one to one and a half pints (containing three ounces of meat) 
for an adult ; and of bread at breakfast or supper, six ounces 
for able-bodied men, for the aged, women, and children over nine 
five ounces, and proportionately less for younger children.-^ 

The movement for the improvement of the workhouse thus 
initiated by the Central Authority in 1865-70 represents a 

1 Circular of 7th December 1868, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, pp. 
41-4, In the different Metropolitan workhouses the Central Authority sought to 
obtain absolute uniformity, and to this end had a model drawn up which was 
submitted to the guardians for their adoption. It is strange that this dietary 
allowed less bread and more meat than was recommended by the Board in the 
circular just described, only a few months later — perhaps because larger 
allowances of meat were made in the dietaries already in force in London unions. 
This dietary, prepared by Dr. Markham, contained tables for the able-bodied, 
the aged, and inmates engaged on extra labour, in each case of both sexes, but 
not for the other classes named in the above-mentioned circular. The points 
chiefly dwelt upon were the necessity of good cooking, of giving reasonable 
quantities of food, sufficient but not wasteful, and of obtaining materials of good 
quality, so as to attain the greatest possible economy (Circular of 23rd April 
1868, in Hid. pp. 35-41). It is to be noted that the Central Authonty issued 
no order on the subject. The result was that in most cases the guardians 
practically ignored the suggestions, and continued in their diversity. 
Camberwell, for instance, continued to allow the able-bodied pauper 107 oz. 
of bread per week, whereas the Poor Law Board had suggested 76 oz. only. 
The hated oatmeal porridge and suet pudding were minimised (Report of Mr. 
J. H. Bridges, 15th May 1873). 



I40 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

vast departure, not only from the policy of the Poor Law 
Commissioners of 1835-47, but also from that of the Poor 
Law Board itself from 1847 to 1865. Unfortunately, in the 
absence of any embodiment of the new policy in a General 
Order, it was left to the slow and haphazard discretion of the 
six hundred boards of guardians how far it was carried into 
practice.^ There is, however, evidence that by 1872, at any 
rate, the Metropolitan workhouses were reported to have 
become " attractive to paupers," and to contain " many persons 
. . . who could maintain themselves out of doors ; and, in 
short, that the workhouse furnishes no test of destitution." ^ 
Moreover, though the Central Authority sought to improve the 
physical conditions of workhouse life, and even to promote the 
comfort of the classes who now formed the great bulk of the 
workhouse population, it does not seem to have had any idea 
of remedying the mental deadness of the workhouse, the 
starvation of the intellect, the paralysis of the will, and the 
extinction of all initiative to which such an existence in- 
evitably tended. The only hint that we can find during the 
whole period of any consciousness that the hundred and fifty 
thousand workhouse inmates had minds is a statement by Mr. 
C. P. Villiers in 1860 that " the board had readily consented 
to establish libraries " for the inmates.^ We cannot find any 
order authorising the provision of workhouse libraries, or any 
circular suggesting them ; nor do we discover their existence 
from such local records as we have been able to consult. 

1 The average cost of in-maintenance throughout the Kingdom (apart from 
buildings, repairs, rates, salaries, etc.) appears to have risen between 1863 and 
1870 from £4-340 for the half-year to £4-781, or by over 10 per cent. The 
125,368 indoor paupers on 1st July 1863 cost £521,292 for the half year 
ended Michaelmas 1863 (Seventeenth Annual Report, 1864-5, pp. 189 and 
198); whereas, the 144,470 indoor paupers on 1st July 1870 cost £690,812 
for the half-year ended Michaelmas 1870 (Twenty-third Annual Eeport, 1870-1, 
pp. 349 and 367). In the Metropolitan unions the average cost for the half- 
year rose from 5-077 to 5-588, or by slightly over 10 per cent. We gather 
that the corresponding amounts for 1905 were not much above £6 for the whole 
country and £7 for the Metropolis, which does not seem a great further advance 
for a quarter of a century. 

2 OfBce Minute of 1873. This had been pointed out by Mr. Corbett in 
1868. "In none of these workhouses is it possible to apply the workhouse as 
a test of destitution to single able-bodied men, nor can indoor relief be afforded 
to those with families in many instances in which it would be desirable " (Mr. 
Corbett's Report, 4th January 1868, in Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, p. 126). 

3 Mr. C. P. Villiers, President of the Poor Law Board, 4th May 1860, 
Hansard, vol. clviii. p. 694. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 141 



K. — Emigration 

Emigration was not made the subject, during this period, 
of statute, order, or circular. At first we find the Central 
Authority continuing the favour to it which had been expressed 
in the 1834 Eeport and in the documents and action of the 
Poor Law Commissioners. In 1849 the Central Authority got 
a Bill through Parliament increasing the powers of promoting 
and assisting emigration,^ in support of which the Manchester 
Board of Guardians petitioned in characteristic phraseology.^ 
In the same year the Central Authority even approved the 
sending out of a convict's family to join him ; " the transporta- 
tion of the convict is not a voluntary desertion of the family, 
and when the Government promotes the sending out of the 
family . . . the expenditure of the poor rate in further- 
ance of that object may properly be sanctioned." ^ By 1 8 5 2 
the number of persons emigrated at the expense of the poor 
rate had risen to 3271 in a single year, four-fifths going to 
the Australian Colonies.'* By this time the total number of 
persons assisted to emigrate at the expense of the poor rates, 
between 1834 and 1853, had mounted up to nearly 24,000.^ 
The policy then changes. The number of persons emigrated 
at the expense of the poor rate suddenly declines, falling from 
3271 in 1852 to 488 in 1853.^ In 1854 it is recorded 
that the Central Authority had " declined during the past year 
to sanction any expenditure from the poor rate in aid of 
emigration to the Australian Colonies (except in . . . special 
circumstances), on the ground that the condition of those 
colonies [appeared] to be such as of itself to attract largely 
voluntary and independent emigration " '^ — a reason, we may 
observe, which does not seem relevant to a discussion of the 
advantage or disadvantage of emigration as a means of reduc- 

» 12 & 13 Vic. c. 103, sec. 20 ; Second Annual Report, 1849, p. 12. 

2 "Your petitioners having had practical proof of the tendency of labour to 
accumulate beyond the bounds of remunerative investment for capital, consider 
that a well-arranged system of emigration is the present most feasible mode of 
preserving a correct equilibrium between the supply and demand for labour" 
(MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 12th July 1849). 

3 Second Annual Report, 1849, p. 12. ^ Fifth Annual Report, 1852, p. 7. 
^ See the total given years later, in Ninth Annual Report, 1856, p. 119. 

^ Sixth Annual Report, 1853, p. 6. "^ Seventh Annual Report, 1854, p. 8. 



142 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

ing pauperism at home. It does not appear that the change 
of policy was due, as it might have been, to a conviction that 
a colony in a period of excitement over "gold rushes" 
was not a suitable place to which to send a young person in 
whose, welfare one took a personal interest. It may be that 
the real reason was a political one, viz. objections expressed 
by the Australian colonies themselves. Whatever the motive, 
however, rate-aided emigration remained in disfavour. " We 
must consider," said the Poor Law Board in 1860, "that at 
present emigration cannot be considered as any practical 
remedial measure for the repression of pauperism." -^ In 
1863, Mr. Villiers, speaking as President of the Poor Law 
Board, gave a new reason for the disfavour into which 
emigration had fallen. " I do not mean to say," he protested, 
on a discussion about the distress caused by the Lancashire 
Cotton Famine, " that the Government should discourage 
emigration. . . . [But] when we know the large amount of 
capital in the country, and the great increase of it, and are 
also cognisant of the demand for labour a few years since, I 
do not think it would be wise of the Government to expend 
public money in the promotion of emigration."'^ For the 
next seven years emigration at the expense of the poor rate 
practically ceases, the number of persons so assisted falling in 
1866-7 to eighteen.^ In the following year, 277 persons 
were sent from Poplar, then exceptionally distressed,^ but 
there was no general resumption of the policy, so far as 
adults were concerned. In 1869 the Central Authority, 
whilst disavowing any intention of reviving the policy, tried 
to simplify the procedure with regard to emigration, but found 
the representatives of the colonies adverse.^ In 1870 there 
was, however, a slight revival, accompanied by the new 
feature of the emigration to Canada of orphan or deserted 
children (Miss Eye's scheme),® destined to become thenceforth 
a constant feature, though not in any one year attaining 
any considerable magnitude. The total number of persons 

1 Twelfth Annual Report, 1859-60, p. 19. 

2 Mr. 0. P. Villiers, President of Poor Law Board, 27tli April 1863, Hansard, 
vol. clxx. pp. 814-15. 3 Nineteenth Annual Report, 1866-7, p. 19. 

* Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, pp. 33, 398. 

* Twenty-.second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. lvi.-lvii. 
« Twenty-third Annual Report, 1870-1, pp. xlvi., 441. 



THE POOR LA W BOARD 143 

emigrated at the expense of the poor rate in the seventeen 
years between 1853 and 1870 was between three and four 
thousand, as contrasted with nearly 24,000 in the preceding 
nineteen years/ 

L. — Relief on Loan 

We may note that the Central Authority did not advise 
making use of the statutory power to grant relief in the form 
of a loan, as a means of discouraging applicants, but regarded 
it solely as a way of saving the rates. Such relief was to be 
granted with due consideration and the lomi fide intention of 
recovering.^ Eelief could not be given on loan if it would be 
contrary to Order to grant it not on loan.^ In fact, what 
might not lawfully be given, was not to be lent^ Whatever 
was granted on loan should always be strictly recovered in 
due time. "The power of lending is only to be exercised 
where the guardians think fit to do something less than 
absolutely give the relief applied for in cases where the 
application is lawful."^ As examples of occasions suitable 
for relief on loan, the Central Authority adduced that of a 
mentally defective person having a regular and sufficient in- 
come, but yet occasionally destitute from incapacity to manage 
his expenditure.^ Other cases are those of wives or children 
found destitute, when the relief may be made on loan to the 
husbands or parents.'^ A further instance is supplied by relief 
applied for by the mother of an illegitimate child who is en- 
titled to periodical payments from the putative father. The 
putative father may be asked to make his payments in such a 
way as to facilitate the recovery of the loan from the mother.^ 
We find no revival of the idea mooted in 1840 of granting 
medical relief on loan. 

1 See the total in Twenty -third Annual Keport, 1870-1, p. 441. 

2 Letter of 8th April 1850, in Official Circular, July 1850, No. 39, KS. p. 108. 

3 Outdoor Relief Regulation Order, 25th August 1852, and 14th December 
1852, in Fifth Annual Report, 1852, pp. 19, 26 ; General Order of 1st January 
1869, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, p. 81. 

* Circular of 25th August 1852, in Fifth Annual Report, 1853, p. 23. 

6 Ibid. 

« Letter of May 1849, in Offijdal Circular, No. 25, N.S. 1849, p. 71. 

7 Outdoor Relief Regulation Order of 25th Aiigust and 14th December 
1852, in Fifth Annual Report, 1852, pp. 19, 26 ; General Order of Ist January 
1869, in Twenty-first Annual Report, 1868-9, p. 81. 

8 Official Circular, September 1850, No. 41, N.S. p. 131. 



144 ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 



M. — Co-operation ivith Voluntary Agencies 

A noteworthy feature of the very end of this period was 
the emphasis suddenly laid upon the importance of systematic 
co-operation between the Poor Law and voluntary charitable 
agencies. This was the novel feature of Mr. Goschen's 
celebrated Minute of 20th November 1869. His object was 
" to avoid the double distribution of relief to the same persons, 
and at the same time to secure that the most effective use 
should be made " of voluntary funds. With this view he 
sought " to mark out the separate limits of the Poor Law and 
of charity respectively, and [to find out] how it is possible to 
secure joint action between the two." He suggested that 
voluntary agencies should undertake the following : — 

(a) The necessary supplementing of insufficient incomes 

— and he does not here distinguish between earn- 
ings, dividends, pensions, and family contributions — 
"leaving to the operation of the [Poor] Law the pro- 
vision for the totally destitute." 

(b) Donations of bedding, clothing, or other similar articles 

not provided by the guardians (as distinguished 
from food or money) ^ to persons in receipt of out- 
door relief. 

(c) Services to such persons which are beyond the power 

of the guardians (such as the redemption from 

pawn or the purchase of tools or clothes, and the. 

expenses of migration). 

It was suggested that charitable agencies and the 

relieving officers should bring to each other's notice all 

cases falling within each other's spheres, in order that none 

might be overlooked ; systematically giving each other also 

information of all cases that were being relieved, so as to 

prevent any overlapping. Mr. Goschen seems to have thought 

^ The policy of the Central Authority seems, down to this date, to have 
contemplated the supplementing of outdoor relief, not only by charitable gifts 
in kind, but also by money. At Poplar, in 1868, a special committee draws 
attention to the "instruction" of the Poor Law Board that when relief is given 
to persons in receipt of charitable relief, the relief given must be only so much 
as, with the assistance of the charitable relief, will suffice for the relief of such 
person's actual necessities (MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 22nd 
September 1868). 



THE POOR LA IV BOARD 145 

it beyond the power of the Poor Law Board to do anything 
to set going any joint action between the Metropolitan boards 
of guardians and charitable agencies. He did not convene 
a conference or initiate a joint committee, or even circulate 
his proposal to the Metropolitan charities ; though he had 
evidently been advised that the services both of the officers 
of the Poor Law Board and of those of the guardians could 
legally be used " to assist in systematising . . . relief operations 
in various parts of the Metropolis," and "to facilitate the 
communication between the official and private agencies " ; 
and that Poor Law funds could be drawn on for remuneration 
for their extra work and for the necessary printing. He 
confined himself literally to sending his Minute to the 
Metropolitan boards of guardians, with a request for their 
views upon it. In reply, he got little beyond a series of 
expositions of the apparent impracticability of his proposals. 
In commenting on these replies, the Central Authority did not 
pursue Mr. Goschen's suggestions, but urged only "increased 
vigilance and the appointment of more relieving officers " on the 
one hand,-^ and on the other the grant of " more adequate 
relief." ^ There the matter rested, for though systematic co- 
operation between charities and the Poor Law has since been 
assumed to be the policy of the Central Authority, we cannot 
find that there has ever been any second official statement 
on the subject.^ 

To the historian of Poor Law policy, Mr. Goschen's Minute 
is important as the first indication of what we shall see 
developing in the ensuing period — an attempt to restrict the 

^ The number of relieving officers in the Metropolis had already increased 
from 102 in 1866 to 161 in 1870. It now rose further to 190 in February, 
1873 (Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871, as reprinted for circulation 
in 1873). The number is now (1907) about 205. 

2 Twenty-second Annual Report, 1869-70, pp. xxxii-xxxiv, 9-30. Mr. 
Goschen directed an inspector to make a special inquiry into the administration 
of outdoor relief in the Metropolis, and this was followed by_ similar inquiries 
in the provinces (Twenty-third Annual Report, 1S70-1, pp. ix-xxi, 32-173 ; 
First Annual Rej)ort of the Local Government Board, 1871-2, pp. xv, 88-215 ; 
Second Annual Report, 1872-3, pp. xvi-xviii ; Third Annual Report, 1873-4, 
pp. XX, 66-116, 136-209). The reports that resulted revealed many defects 
and some malpractices, but we do not find that there was any action by the 
Central Authority. 

3 It should perhaps be mentioned that in the Third Annual Report, 1873-4 
(pp. xvii. and 126-35), reports by Miss Octavia HUl and Colonel Lynedoch 
Gardiner, on the Co-operation of Charity with the Poor Law in Marylebone, are 
given and commended. 

L 



146 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

range of operations of the Poor Law, which here began to 
battle with the opposite tendency to extend the range of those 
operations, and to improve their quality, which, as we have 
seen, had marked the whole reign of the Poor Law Board 
with regard to children and persons of unsound mind ; and 
which had, from 1865, taken such a stride onwards in the 
provision of hospitals and dispensaries for the sick, and improved 
accommodation for the workhouse inmates. 

N. — The Position in 1871 

In 1867 the Poor Law Board, which had been continued 
from time to time by temporary statutes, was made permanent,^ 
and in 1871 it was merged in a new and permanent depart- 
ment, the Local Government Board, established to take over 
not only the Poor Law business, but also the Local Government 
Act Department of the Home Office and the growing public 
health service, which had, since the abolition of the General 
Board of Health, been under the Privy Council. This 
amalgamation, which was not brought about by anything to 
do with the Poor Law side, does not mark any significant epoch 
in Poor Law policy. It is therefore unnecessary to attempt 
any summary of the whole policy of the Poor Law Board as 
such. It need only be noted at this point that the new 
establishment of the Central Authority on a permanent basis, 
no longer dependent on temporary statutes, but definitely 
one of the departments of the national executive, with its 
President more frequently than not a member of the Cabinet, 
greatly strengthened the authority and augmented the con- 
fidence with which it dealt with boards of guardians. And 
this authority was in these years being fortified by the growth 
of an official staff, on a more permanent basis than the 
temporarily serving inspectors and assistant inspectors of a 
professedly temporary board. We are already conscious, at 
the end of this period, of a growing firmness of touch and an 
increasing consciousness of there being once more a deliberate 
policy, which the new department will strive to carry out 
and enforce. 

^ The Liverpool Vestry and various boards of guardians objected to the 
Poor Law Board being made permanent, as its very existence tended to lessen 
the sense of responsibility of the local Poor Law authorities (Report of 
Special Vestry Meeting, Liverpool, in Liverpool Mercury, 27th June 1867). 



CHAPTER IV 
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOAED 

As we have already mentioned, the merging of the Poor 
Law Board in the newly established Local Government Board 
came about for reasons unconnected with the Poor Law, and 
it coincided with no definite change in Poor Law Policy. But, 
as already indicated, the placing of the Central Authority on a 
permanent basis coincided with a gradual improvement in the 
quality of the inspectorial staff, who, in the ensuing decades, 
remind us more of the masterful assistant commissioners of 
the 1834-47 period. On the other hand, the development 
of the of&ce from a mere specialised authority, concerned 
only with a single function, into what became practically a 
Ministry of the Interior, charged with the supervision of all 
the local government of the country (with the partial exception 
of police and schools), necessitated both an increase and a 
development of the permanent secretariat. To this secretariat, 
with its graded hierarchy and multiplicity of departments, 
boards of guardians and the administration of the Poor Law 
tended inevitably to take their place among municipal corpora- 
tions, local boards of health, highway authorities, and the 
administration of other statutory powers. There is even a 
third element to take into account. The revival of public 
interest in Poor Law problems, beginning about 1 8 6 7 ^ in the 

^ The sequence in the Metropolis seems to have been, first, the exceptional 
distress in the East End during 1866-7 ; then a strict administration on 
deterrent principles, agreed to by conferences of East End Guardians in 1869, 
under the influence of Mr. Corbett, who had become inspector for the Metropolis 
in 1866 ; Mr. Goschen's Circular of 20th November 1869, and the consequent 
inquiries into Poor Law practice ; Mr. Corbett's powerful Report of 10th August 
1871 ; and then the Circular of 2nd December 1871, with the conferences 

147 



148 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Metropolis and some of the large towns, and spreading later 
to the whole country, had its effect in the House of Commons, 
especially after the extension of the franchise in London and 
the boroughs (1867), and in the counties (1884). We see 
this manifesting itself in Poor Law policy in various minor 
statutes, and, above all, in sporadic circulars and other 
declarations of policy by the Parliamentary President of the 
Local Government Board. 

Thus the student who seeks to discover what was the 
policy of the Central Authority between 1871 and 1907 finds 
two distinct influences at work on Boards of Guardians, each 
of which carries with it the weight of the Central Authority, 
but one of them is seen to be predominant between 1871 and 
1885, whilst the other predominates after 1885. 

The able, zealous, and somewhat doctrinaire inspectorate, 
especially between 1871 and 1885, stands always on the 
"principles of 1834" in their strictest interpretation — 
constantly using language, indeed, which went beyond any 
proposals of the 1834 Eeport, or any policy embodied in the 
documents of the Central Authority of 1834-47. On the 
other hand, the president (and Parliament with his concurrence) 
sporadically brought in (especially after 1885) a note that 
some might term a sentimental, others an enlightened humani- 
tarianism, with regard to particular sections — the unemployed, 
the decayed members of friendly societies, the " deserving 
aged poor " generally. This humanitarianism was certainly in 
direct contradiction of the "principles of 1834." How far it 
may be said to have embodied, perhaps unconsciously, other 
principles will subsequently appear. 

The cleavage in policy between the inspectorate and the 

president did not at first manifest itself. For the first decade 

or so, the successive presidents and the inspectorate seem to 

be at one in a policy of " strict administration " — a policy as 

to which we cannot discover whether it was due to the 

influence of such presidents as Mr. Goschen and Mr. Stansfeld 

upon such inspectors as Mr. Corbett, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Wodehouse, 

and Mr. Longley, or vice versa. We may perhaps ascribe to 

the caution of the secretariat the confining of this policy to 

resulting therefrom. Mr. Longley was appointed inspector for the Metropolis 
in March 1872 (Mr. Longley's Report, in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, 
pp 196-7) 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 149 

the general terms of circulars and minutes, thus avoiding alike 
the necessary precision of orders and statutes and any explicit 
extension of the "principles of 1834" to classes other than 
the able-bodied. 

From 1871 to about 1885 the outstanding feature of the \ 
policy of the Central Authority was the steady pressure , 
exercised through the inspectors with the object of reducing 
outdoor relief. This arose out of the inquiries set on foot by 
Mr. Goschen, which had revealed, not only the granting of a 
large amount of outdoor relief to able-bodied men and 
women and their families, but also great differences in practice 
between one union and another. As we have shown, neither 
Mr. Goschen nor the Central Authority under any other 
president had, down to 1871, so far as the aged and inj&rm 
and cases of sickness were concerned, ever indicated or 
advocated, in any official document that we have been able to 
find, any alternative policy to that of outdoor relief. The 
Circular ou Outdoor Relief^ now issued to the inspectors and 
widely published, which set the tone for the ensuing decade, 
did not explicitly declare any new policy with regard to these 
classes, which then made up at least three-fourths of the total t- 
outdoor relief cases. Moreover its illustrative examples and 
its specific recommendations related entirely to the able-bodied. 
Indeed, except for an important new departure in the treat- 
ment of able-bodied widows with children, the recommendations 
to be pressed on Boards of Guardians amounted to no more 
than the substitution of the practice of the Outdoor Relief 
Prohibitory Order for either that of the Outdoor Eelief 
Eegulation Order or that of the Labour Test Order, where one 
or other of these latter was in force. The differences between 
these orders, as we have shown, relate only to the able-bodied. 
Thus, an acute clerk of a board of guardians would have been 
warranted in saying that, so far as concerned the aged and 
infirm and the sick, the Circular of 1871 announced no new 
policy. 

But the Circular appeared to the casual reader to be 

against outdoor relief as such to any class of paupers. The 

expression "Outdoor Eelief" was nowhere defined or limited. 

Particular unions were compared one with another as to the 

^ Circular of 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Report, 1871-2, pp. 63-8. 



ISO ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

amount and proportion of their total outdoor relief to all cases, 
those having a large amount being held to blame, without a 
consideration of whether their outdoor relief was to the able- 
bodied or to the aged and infirm and the sick ; and even 
without any consideration of the relative proportion of persons 
over sixty, or the relative prevalence of ill-health in their 
several populations.^ 

Moreover, some of the other recommendations of the 
Circular implied, though they did not express, a suggestion 
that the " offer of the House " might be used as a means of 
preventing the aged and the sick from coming on the rates at 
all. Quite a new stress was laid on getting contributions 
from relatives, and on the most vigilant inquiry into circum- 
stances, recommendations which certainly applied to the aged 
and infirm and to the sick, and which seemed to carry with 
them the hint that, if confronted with the workhouse, even 
the aged and the sick would be maintained by their relations. 

Whether or not the Central Authority can be held in 
these years to have deliberately adopted the new policy of the 
offer of the workhouse for the aged and infirm and for the 
sick, as well as for the able-bodied, it was this policy which, 
from, 1871 onwards, was increasingly pressed on boards of 
guardians by the abler and more energetic of the inspectors. 
We cannot find any official document in which any inspector 
explicitly committed himself to the statement that the time 
had come when outdoor relief should, as a matter of principle, 
be refused to the aged and infirm, or to the sick, as had long 
been the official advice with regard to the able-bodied.^ But 
it was in these years that these inspectors took to circulating 

1 The first uotice that we have seen of the fact that some districts contain 
"a much higher proportion of the weak and old," than others, and that some 
have also a much higher rate of mortality among husbands than others, which 
vitiates any simple comparison of their pauperism, is in a Report by Mr. Culley 
(inspector) in 1873 (Third Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. 66, 72-3). But the hint 
was not acted on in the tables of statistics used by the inspectors. 

2 Mr. Longley did definitely recommend that outdoor relief, even to the 
widows with families, the sick and the " disabled " — by which he meant the 
aged — should bo discontinued, except in cases that might be found to fall out- 
side a series of categories so defined, and so extensive, as practically to include 
the whole of these classes. Moreover, in his view it was to be " regarded as 
the next step in the advance towards improved administration that applicants 
for out-relief shall be called upon to show special cause why they should not 
receive indoor relief" (Mr. Longley 's Report in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, 
p. 142). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 151 

among their boards of guardians the comparative tables 
showing their relative position in order of merit according to 
the smallness of their out-relief — always without making any 
distinction between the out-relief to the aged and the sick on 
the one hand, and that to the able-bodied on the other. In 
their published reports on their districts we see the inspectors 
taking the same tone and using the same unguarded phrases 
implying the inherent badness of outdoor relief (without any 
limitation to the able-bodied), that marked the Circular of 
1871 The minutes of the boards of guardians of this period 
occasionally preserve a record of, or contain a reference to 
the inspector's letters or personal advice to the same effect.^ 

It was a feature of this period that the inspectors were 
in close personal contact with the president. Mr. Stansfeld 
inaugurated a system of occasional dinners at which he met 
all the inspectors and discussed with them their difficulties. 
They had also periodical conferences in London for a week at 
a time, at which they formulated a common policy. In these 
years began, too, the Poor Law conferences, where the inspectors 
(and occasionally also the president) came in contact with the 
new school of unofficial Poor Law experts, who were in favour 
of the "logical development" of the "principles of 1834." It 
v/as, in fact, " now argued " that, just as under the Act of 
1834, the "offer of the workhouse" had "obliged the able- 
bodied to assume responsibility for the able-bodied period of life 
... an application of the same principle to the other responsi- 
bilities of life would produce equally advantageous results." ^ 
The presidents of the first decade of the Local Government 
Board seem, indeed, sometimes to have accepted the view that 
all relief ought, strictly speaking, to be given in the workhouse. 
Mr. Longley's Eeport on outdoor relief in the Metropolis was 
sent officially to the boards of guardians and commended as 
laying down "sound lines of policy."^ Mr. Dodson, in 1881, 
declared as president that " the whole object and system of the 
Poor Law as established in this country is that it should be 
strictly administered, with the aim simply to testing and reliev- 

^ E.g. MS. archives, Newcastle Board of Guardians (lithographed letter of 
Mr. Hedley, inspector, drawing attention to the comparative outdoor pauperism 
of his unions, and urging reduction). 

2 History of the Eiiglish Poor Law, by T. Mackay, 1899, vol. iii. p. 154. 

3 Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, pp. xix-xx. 



152 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

ing absolute destitution ; and no effectual means have yet been 
devised of so testing the destitution except by offering the house. 
And just in proportion as the Poor Law is strictly administered, 
and in proportion as entrance into the house is insisted upon 
as a condition of relief, so, on the whole, is the Poor Law 
better administered — better administered, I do not hesitate to 
say, not only in the interest of the poor themselves, but in the 
interest of the ratepayers at large. Xow, you must remember, 
in the case of outdoor relief it is impossible absolutely to test 
the cases. They cannot be closely watched, and you cannot tell 
when a man is receiving outdoor relief that he is not having 
aid from other sources, or that he is not to some extent earn- 
ing something for himself, and might possibly, if left to his 
own resources, earn more. Well, then, it is a system which in 
that way acts as a check upon personal exertions and upon 
providence, and I need not say that anything which acts as a 
check upon exertion and providence cannot but result in 
an increase of pauperism and the demoralisation of the 
labouring classes, and must end in an increased charge to the 
ratepayers." ^ 

A notable step towards stricter administration in these 
years was the adoption in 1875 by the Manchester Board of 
Guardians of by-laws for its own guidance, putting additional 
restrictions on the grant of outdoor relief^ These by-laws 
were made much of by the inspectors, and carried from 
board to board. Their object was to discourage as much as 
possible the grant of outdoor relief as such. Yet it is note- 
worthy that they apply primarily to the able-bodied (male and 
female), and that they do not mention at all the case of the 
aged, and that they allude to the sick only by way of 
restricting the duration of each order of outdoor relief to two 
weeks. But here again we detect the hint that the " offer of 
the house " might be used, in the case of the aged, as a means 
of extracting contributions from relatives whether or not such 
contributions were legally due. 

In 1877 we see a great effort made to get the new 
departure embodied in a general order. The Central Poor 

1 Mr. Dodson (President of the Local Governinent Board) to deputation 
from Newington and St. Saviour's, Southwark, November 1881, in Local 
Government Chronicle, 26th November 1881, p. 951 

2 Fifth Annual Report, 1875-6, pp. xvii-xix. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 153 

Law Conference, professing to sum np all the experience and 
knowledge both of the inspectors and of the new school of 
unofficial Poor Law experts, asked the Central Authority to 
issue new orders restrict! iig outdoor relief generally. Even 
here it is noteworthy that no explicit suggestion was made 
that the aged and the sick ought not to be granted outdoor 
relief. What was asked for was practically the " Manchester 
Eules," with the addition of the suggestion that all relief 
should be given on loan. Here, however, the Central Authority 
made a stand. It refused to make any new order, specifically 
declining to extend the Prohibitory Order to the whole 
country, to make all relief recoverable as if granted on loan, 
to enable all medical relief to be made on loan, to impose 
a fixed limit for the grant of outdoor relief in cases of sick- 
ness, or to prohibit outdoor relief to widows in the first 
six months of their widowhood.-^ 

Thus, the policy of 1871-85 resulted, not in any altera- 
tion of the classic orders of 1844, 1847, and 1852; or in any 
explicit reversal of the policy hitherto pursued with regard to 
the aged and the sick, but only in a general " tightening up " 
of the administration of relief by boards of guardians all over 
the country. "We shall see this general " tightening up " more 
in detail in the examination of the treatment of various 
classes. That examination will also reveal the effect of the 
reaction against this tightening up, which set in about 1885 
— a reaction which showed itself in the relaxation, usually at 
the instance or with the encouragement of Parliament and 
successive presidents, of the conditions of relief to specific 
classes. 

A. — The Able-bodied 

(i.) National Uniformity 

In the absence of new Statutes, and of alterations in the 
General Orders relating to the relief by boards of guardians 
of the able-bodied, there was, of course, between 1871 and 
1907, no step towards national uniformity. The country 
continued to be divided up geographically into three regions, 

^ Letter, signed by Sir John Lambert, to Mr. Albert Pell, M.P., Chairman 
of Central Poor Law Conference, 12th May 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 
1877-8, pp. 51-7. 



154 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

according to whether or not the Central Authority had per- 
mitted the grant of outdoor relief to able-bodied men, subject 
to a labour test ; and to whether or not it had permitted 
outdoor relief to able-bodied women without children. And 
unlike the period 1847-1871, that of 1871-1907 did not 
witness any important alteration in the geographical extension 
of these three regions, though the relative populations altered 
very considerably. The general policy of the Central 
Authority, in issuing the Outdoor Eelief Prohibitory Order to 
rural districts, with or without the Labour Test Order when 
required, and in issuing to the large towns the Outdoor Eelief 
Eegulation Order, was continued throughout the whole period.^ 

(ii.) The WorkJiouse Test 

What happened for the first five-and-twenty years of the 
Local Government Board was, as we have indicated, a general 
tightening up in the administration of all three regions. The 
Central Authority intimated that it would not easily give the 
approval that was necessary for any departure from the 
orders. " In unions where the Prohibitory Order is in force," 
said the circular to the inspectors of 2nd December 1871, 
" the workhouse test should be strictly applied. . . » The 
Board will not be prepared to sanction any cases which are 
not reported within the time limited by the order, and in 
which the reports do not contain a detailed statement of the 
paupers to which they refer, showing the number of their 
respective families with the ages and number of children 
employed, amount of wages of the several members of the 
family at work, cause of destitution, period during which they 
have been without employment, amount of relief, if any, given 
previously to the transmission of the report, and what extent 
of accommodation for all classes exists in the workhouse at the 
time." 2 

1 It is to be noted that Mr. Longley, in 1873, drew attention to the 
uncertainty of practice caused by the lack of definition of "able-bodied," and 
the different senses in Avhich it was used in the official documents. He pointed 
out that the absence of definition seriously impaired administration, and urged 
that authoritative instructions should be issued (Mr. Longley's Report in Third 
Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 174). We do not find that any action was taken. 

2 Circular of 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. 67. 
With regard to the 85,386 persons who received outdoor relief on 1st January 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 155 

As times became bad, the Central Authority received 
"applications ... for a relaxation of the provisions of the 
General Out-relief Prohibitory Order, and for the substitution 
of an outdoor labour test for the more effective test of 
destitution afforded by the offer of relief in the workhouse." 
Instead of yielding to these requests, as had formerly 
happened, the Central Authority now replied, " that the 
Supplemental Outdoor Labour Test Order is not intended 
to supersede, but to be subsidiary to the General Out-relief 
Prohibitory Order, and should not be brought into operation 
so long as there is sufficient room in the workhouse avail- 
able for able-bodied paupers."^ "A strict adherence to 
the workhouse test," said the Central Authority, " on such 
occasions when temporary relief is demanded solely from the 
state of the weather, is essentially beneficial to the labouring 
classes, and conducive to their real interest. A certainty of 
obtaining outdoor relief in his own home, whenever he may 
demand it, extinguishes in the mind of the labourer all 
motive for husbanding his earnings, and induces him to 
rely exclusively upon the rates, instead of upon his own 
savings, for any momentary relief which he may require 
from the sudden cessation of his usual employment. The 
unfailing application of the workhouse test, on the other 
hand, makes him at once aware that the only form in which 
he can receive relief is as an ordinary inmate of the work- 

1873, as "able-bodied male paupers" (including, it must be remembered, 
18,037 wives and 45,285 children of such men, 15,133 men relieved on 
account of their own sickness, 5572 on account of the sickness of wife or child, 
and only 1339 merely for want of work), the Central Authority observed 
without discrimination, that: "There would be, in our opinion, no material 
difficulty in enforcing, throughout all the unions, the salutary provision which 
forbids the allowance of relief to this class of persons except in a workhouse " 
(Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. xiv). But no such "provision" existed, in 
any Statute or Order, or even in any official Circular, so far as we can discover. 
Mr. Corbett had once suggested that he should ' ' encourage boards of guardians 
to abstain far more than at present, from giving out-relief to able-bodied men on 
accovmt of their own sickness or accident." But even he did not propose its 
refusal in all cases (Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th Aug-ust 1871). We cannot 
find that the Central Authority had ever before formally seemed to give its 
approval, if it really intended to do so by this obiter dictum, to the suggestion 
that sick persons ought not to receive outdoor relief. 

* Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, p. xvii. It also received " applications from 
a few other unions for assent to temporary out-relief in the case of boatmen or 
other persons thrown out of work by the frost." Sanction was not actually 
refused, but it was pointed out that the guardians should have offered the 
workhouse (ibid.). 



156 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

house, and the strongest inducement to support himself and 
his family is thus held out to him, an inducement altogether 
wanting wlien the guardians, upon his application, readily 
grant him outdoor relief," ^ 

But, as already mentioned, the Central Authority, though 
pressed to do so, did not consent to make the Out-relief 
Prohibitory Order coextensive with the country. "The 
Order," it replied, " is now in force in all the rural unions 
. . . and in many urban unions also, and the Board 
continue to apply its provisions from time to time to other 
unions as often as the circumstances enable them to do so, 
but it has never been attempted to apply the provisions 
of the Order to the Metropolis, or those centres of manu- 
facturing industry where large numbers of persons are 
periodically thrown out of employment by sudden and 
extensive depressions of trade." ^ In such places, as it was 
explained, it would certainly be found necessary to abrogate 
the Order at those periods, and this would weaken its force 
generally. 

(iii.) Tlie, Labour Test 

Where the relief of able-bodied men outside the work- 
house was not prohibited, we see the Central Authority in 
these years not only rigidly maintaining the rule as to a 
labour test (whether under the Out-relief Eegulation Order 
or under a Labour Test Order supplementary to the Out- 
relief Prohibitory Order) ; but also seeking to make the 
administration more strict. This rule, it was explained in 
1879, "is one the value of which has been experienced at 
various times, and in various parts of the country, as a 
test of the actual destitution of the applicant ; and to the 
observance of which, in times of serious pressure, such as the 
present, the Board attach very great importance. The Board 
are not prepared to suspend the operation of the articles in 
question generally ; but if while applying its provisions, the 
guardians should be of opinion that, in certain special cases which 
might arise, it would be proper that the strict application 

^ Fourth Animal Report, 1874-5, p. xviii. 

^ Letter of Local Government Board to Chairman of Centa'al Poor Law 
Conference, 12th May 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 66. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 157 

of these provisions should not be enforced, the Board, on 
receiving a particular report of the circumstances under 
Article 10 of the Order, would be prepared to give their 
favourable consideration to the cases." ^ Even in such a 
severe crisis of unemployment as that of 1879-81, when the 
number of men thrown out of work was probably greater 
than at any date from 1841 down to the present day, the 
Central Authority held to its view of what the labour test 
should be. " For this object," it was explained, " the opera- 
tions of breaking stone and picking oakum (when performed 
under proper superintendence) are in many respects very 
appropriate, and, having regard to the objection to employing 
paupers on work of a productive character, which may interfere 
with the ordinary calliugs or employment of any portion of 
the independent population of the district, the Board are 
unable to suggest any other kind of work than those named." ^ 
Nor was even breaking stone or picking oakum to be paid 
for as wages, or regarded as employment. " With regard to 
the proposal of the [Warrington] guardians to pay 2s. 6d. for 
each ton of stones broken," the Central Authority stated 
" that the task is intended merely for a test of destitution, 
and that the relief granted to each pauper should not be 
proportioned to the quantity of stone broken by him, but to 
the necessities of his case." ^ The inspectors were instructed 
to press the guardians everywhere not to grant even admission 
to " the stoneyard " as a matter of course ; " orders to able- 
bodied men for relief in the labour yard should only be given 
from week to week " ; and the homes of the men so relieved 
should be visited by the relieving officer at least once a 
fortnight.* Moreover, even this relief was intended to be 
only temporary ; and the conditions were sometimes made 
more onerous after the first few weeks. "In the Poplar 
Union, at the expiration of the first month, the applicant 
is required to come to the stoneyard an hour earlier and to 

^ Local Governnient Board to Bristol Union, 16th January 1879, Local 
Government Clironicle, 25th January 1879, p. 69. 

2 Local Government Board to Bedniinister Union, January 1881 ; in 
Local Govermnent Chrmiicle, 8th January 1881, p. 35. 

3 Letter, Local Government Board to Warrington Union, March 1878 ; 
in Local Governvient Chronicle, 30th March 1878, p. 253. 

■* Circular of 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Eeport, 1871-2, p. 67 ; 
see Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th Au<nist 1871. 



■^ 



158 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

leave an hour later than before, and to break an additional 
bushel of stones." ^ Gradually we see it being assumed, 
even as regards unions under the Out-relief Eegulation Order, 
that it is merely " when the workhouse accommodation is 
insufficient," ^ or " so long as they have not adequate work- 
house accommodation," ^ that relief should be given with a 
labour test. Eight down to February 1886, the Central 
Authority declared that it " would not feel justified in 
relaxing" the regulations which prohibited relief to able- 
bodied men, however temporary and undeserved might be 
their want of employment, " without any such test of destitu- 
tion as is provided by admission to a properly managed 
workhouse, or the performance of an adequate task of work." 
To cope with the distress caused by unemployment, the 
Holborn Guardians on 9th February 1886 were, in fact, 
expressly told to hire a stoneyard.* 

(iv.) The, Modified Workhouse Test Order 

In one union there was an attempt, to which the 
Central Authority in 1887 gave its approval by Special 
Order, to substitute for the labour test provisions of the 
Out-relief Eegulation Order, a special appUcation of the 
" Workhouse Test." ^ This Order, limited in duration to 
twelve months, permitted outdoor relief to be given to the 
wife and family of an able-bodied man, without a labour 
test, on condition that the man himself entered the work- 
house. This device was intended to get over the three 
principal obstacles to the universal adoption of the "Work- 
house Test" for the able-bodied, viz. the lack of sufficient 
accommodation in workhouses ; the objection to " breaking up 
the home " ; and the undesirability of bringing the wives, 

1 Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871. 

2 Instructional letter to inspectors (?) December 1878 ; cited by Mr. CuUey 
(inspector), to Newcastle Board of Guardians, see MS. archives, 28th December 
1878. 

3 Local Government Board letter to Holborn Union, 9th February 1886, 
in House of Commons, No. 69 of 1886, p. 40. 

4 Ibid. pp. 40-1. 

5 Special Order to Whitechapel Union, 18th April 1887. This new 
departure was not mentioned in the Annual Report, and the Order has not, 
as far as we know, been generally published. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 159 

and especially the children, under workhouse influences. 
This Order, which was not renewed on its expiry, and not 
issued to any other union for nearly twenty years, was, as 
we have said, asked for as a means of making the administra- 
tion of relief more stringent than it was under the Out-relief 
Eegulation Order. Combined with the establishment of a 
special " Test "Workhouse," which we shall presently describe, 
it might come near to being a penal alternative. But it is, 
as we shall see afterwards, important rather as a precedent 
capable also of application in an entirely humanitarian way. 

(v.) The, Test Workhouse 

It must be noted that, whilst the inspectorate was in 
these years doing its utmost to insist on "the offer of the 
house " to all able-bodied persons, it was also encouraging 
boards of guardians to make the workhouse for such persons 
an exclusively disciplinary institution. This had, as we have 
mentioned, been suggested by Mr. Corbett in 1868. The 
pressure on the accommodation of the Metropolitan work- 
houses, and the mixing together of so many different classes 
of inmates, made it impossible, Mr. Corbett had pointed out, 
"to apply the workhouse as a test of destitution to single 
able-bodied men." ^ " In urging upon boards of guardians 
in the Metropolis," repeated his successor, Mr. Longley, " as 
I have lately had occasion to do almost daily, the application 
of the workhouse test, I have not infrequently been met by 
the startling admission that the workhouse is attractive to 
paupers ; that there are many persons in the workhouse who 
could maintain themselves out of doors ; and, in short, that 
the workhouse furnishes no test of destitution. All arguments 
in support of the workhouse test which assume the existence 
of a * well-regulated workhouse ' (to use the language of the 
Poor Law Commissioners of Inquiry, 1833) must fail at 
once when addressed to guardians whose workhouse offers 
attractions to the indolent. And I have reason to think 
that the aversion to the proper and free use of the workhouse 
which distinguishes many Metropolitan boards of guardians, 

^ Mr. Corbett's Report of 14th January 1868, in Twentieth Annual Report 
of the Poor Law Board, 1867-8, p. 126 ; repeated in his Report of 10th August 
1871. 



1 60 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC Y 

is in some measure due to the failure of the workhouses, 
as at present administered, to satisfy the essential conditions 
of their establishment." ^ 

Mr. Longley was told to prepare an elaborate report on 
indoor relief in the Metropolis, and in this he expressed his 
emphatic opinion that " the deterrent discipline . . . fails at 
present to be duly enforced in London workhouses almost 
without exception . . . The general tone of their administra- 
tion is that of the almsfiouse rather than of the workhouse 
system,"^ He traced this inconvenient laxity to the very 
nature of the general workhouse for all classes, which the 
Central Authority had substituted for the series of specialised 
institutions recommended in the Eeport of 1834. "The 
presence in a workhouse," he said, " of the sick, or of any class 
in whose favour the ordinary discipline must be relaxed, and 
who receive special indulgences, has an almost inevitable 
tendency to impair the general discipline of the establishment." ^ 
The very improvement in the workhouses, which, under the 
Central Authority's own pressure, was taking place in these 
years, had, in fact, brought to light the inherent drawback of 
the general workhouse. Hence the able-bodied, like the 
children and the sick, were now to be accommodated by them- 
selves. Thus we find, from 1871 onwards, the idea of the 
" Test Workhouse," an institution set apart exclusively for the 
able-bodied, where they could be subjected (to use Mr. 
Longley's words) to " such a system of labour, discipline, and 
restraint as shall be sufficient to outweigh," in the estimation 
of the inmates, " the advantages " which they enjoy. Mr. 
Longley declared that the main object of the Metropolitan 
Poor Act of 1867 had been, not exclusively, or even 
principally, the better accommodation of the sick, but the intro- 
duction of classification by institutions, with the double object 
of, on the one hand, an improved treatment of the sick, and, 
on the other, "the establishment of a stricter and more 

1 Office Minute by Mr. Longley, 1873. Much the same words occur in his 
Annual Report. The " lax discipline of the workhouse " in London is described 
as tending "to deprive it of its function as a test" (Mr. Longley's Report in 
Third Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 1873-4, p. 166). 

2 Mr. Longley's Report on Indoor Relief in the Metropolis ; in Fourth 
Annual Report, 1874-5, p. 49. 

3 Ihid. p. 42. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD i6i 

deterrent discipline in workhouses." ^ Circumstances, he said, 
had delayed the accomplishment of the latter purpose, but it 
was now time for the Central Authority to " urge upon 
guardians the establishment in workhouses of a more distinctly 
deterrent system of discipline and diet than has hitherto been 
secured," involving "a reconsideration of the conditions of 
pauper labour and service in workhouses." ^ 

Under the influence of the inspectorate, we see half the 
unions in London gradually agreeing to take advantage of the 
powers given by the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867, and to 
make use, for their able-bodied paupers, of the workhouse of 
the Poplar Union, which now sent its sick to the new " sick 
asylum," its children to the district school, and its aged and 
infirm to the workhouse of another union.^ This establish- 
ment of a test workhouse for the able-bodied received at first 
the warm commendation of the Central Authority.* The 
Poplar workhouse, with its rigid discipline, its absolutely 
limited diet and its severe task of monotonous toil (oakum- 
picking and stone-pounding), measured not by time but by a 
prescribed quantity, became a terror. Por the next seven 
years, we see the guardians offering, sometimes to " trouble- 

^ Mr. Longley's Report on Indoor Relief in the Metropolis, in Fourth 
Annual Report, 1874-5, p. 43. 

2 Ihid. p. 47. "We have not verified the statement that the intention of 
the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867 included the allocation of separate workhouses 
exclusively for the able-bodied. We see that in January 1868 Mr. Corbett 
was suggesting it as if it were an idea of his own. "I am more than ever 
convinced, " he says, ' ' that one of the gi'eat wants of the Metropolis is the 
establishment of new, or the appropriation of existing workhouses for the able- 
bodied classes of groups of unions, in each of which one sex only should be 
received ; a far more complete system of classification maintained than has 
hitherto been attempted, at least in Metropolitan workhouses ; and strict 
discipline enforced under proper regulations and superintendence " (Mr. 
Corbett 's Report of 4th January 1868, in Twentieth Annual Report of the Poor 
Law Board, 1867-8, p. 126). Whether or not this was exactly in the mind of 
the legislature or of the Central Authority in 1867, it seems true, as Mr. Longley 
pointed out, that the provisions of the Metropolitan Poor Act were extensive 
enough to cover, "whether directly or indirectly," not merely an improvement 
in workhouse sick wards, but "the reception in distinct buildings of separate 
classes of paupers or . . . classification, not in a workhouse, but by work- 
houses " (Mr. Longley's Report on Indoor Relief in the Metropolis, in Fourth 
Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 1874-5, p. 42). 

3 Special Order to Poplar and Stepney, 19th October 1871 ; Special Order to 
Poplar, 6th March 1872 (extending the use of the Poplar Workhouse to the able- 
bodied of any Metropolitan union) ; Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871. 

* First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. xxiv ; Second Annual Report, 1872-3, 
pp. xxvi-xxvii. 

M 



i62 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

some " paupers, sometimes to all able-bodied applicants, male 
or female — not outdoor relief upon a labour test — but " an 
order for Poplar." " Notwithstanding the considerable number 
of unions which have availed themselves of this privilege, the 
number . . . who have accepted the relief, or having accepted 
it, have remained in the workhouse, has been so small that, 
although the workhouse will contain 768 persons, there were 
in it at the close of last year only 166 inmates."^ In 1878, 
however, the Metropolitan police magistrates seem to have 
expressed disapproval of the penal character which the 
institution had assumed. A woman brought up for refusing 
to do her task of oakum-picking at Poplar was discharged, 
with the observation that such work was not a fit task to set 
to women in receipt of Poor Law relief. On these sentiments 
becoming known, as the Poplar Guardians informed the 
Central Authority, " the master of the workhouse has a very 
considerable amount of trouble in getting any work done now 
by the inmates." The Central Authority, in reply, sympathised 
with the difficulty, but could, after six weeks' deliberation, 
do nothing but express the hope that the Poplar Guardians 
would be able to convert the magistrates to their views.^ 

1 Second Annual Report, 1872-3, p. xxvii. 

2 Letters, Poplar Guardians to Local Government Board, 4th November 
1878 ; Local Government Board to Poplar Guardians, 19tli December 1887. 
Even this very strict Boai-d of Guardians had, in 1871, used, as a labour 
test for women, "a task of vrork in a needle-room . , . provided by the 
guardians," and this had been recommended even by Mr. Corbett (Mr. Corbett's 
Report of 10th August 1871). But oakum-picking had apparently been 
substituted for needlework, and the Central Authority, in 1878, did not see 
its way to any alternative. " With regard to the objection ... to oakum- 
picking as an employment for women . . . very great difficulty was experienced 
in finding labour which shall not interfere with the market for the work of the 
independent poor, and ... even oakum-picking is not altogether free from this 
objection. . . . "Work of this description is in use in workhouses in various 
parts of the country, not as punishment . . . but as one of the most available 
means of employing the able-bodied indoor paupers. . . . General experience 
has shown that it is not physically injurious, and in this particular workhouse 
it is found that many of the female paupers can pick the prescribed quantity 
with ease. ... It is erroneous to suppose that a particular description of work is 
necessarily degrading because it happens to be exacted in gaols, since there are 
but few kinds of menial work in all large institutions to which the same 
objection may not also be applied ; and it should be added that, imless this kind 
of employment is resorted to, it would not be practicable to find sufficient occupa- 
tion for the female inmates of the workhouses, and that enforced idleness is more 
demoralising than even disagreeable work ' " (Local Government Board to Poplar 
Union, 19th December 1878, in Local Govet-nment Chronicle, 4th January 1879, 
pp. 8-9). Twenty years later the official view, as we shall see, completely changed. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 163 

The difficulty seems to have continued, for, in 1881, the 
Central Authority issued an Order permitting the Poplar 
Guardians to use their workhouse for other than the able- 
bodied, thus bringing the experiment to an end.-^ 

It is to be noted that, in spite of the Poplar experience, 
the policy of a special " Test House," devoted exclusively to 
the able-bodied, continued to be pressed on guardians by the 
Inspectorate. The Birmingham Guardians established such a 
"test house," in 1880, but it seems to have been opened to 
other classes in 1887.^ In the latter year, notwithstanding 
this renewed abandonment, we see Mr. Henley pressing the 
same policy on the Manchester Guardians, leading them to 
visit Birmingham to inspect the test house there.^ In the 
Metropolis, the inspectorate got the Kensington workhouse 
made use of in 1882, in substitution for that of Poplar, 
though only for males ; and able-bodied applicants were, for 
thirteen years, referred thither. This arrangement came to an 
end in 1905, greatly to the regret of the inspectorate. This 
Kensington test house, it was said, " for many years did useful 
work as a place where really able-bodied men were received 
from all parts of London, and kept hard at work under strict 
surveillance. As the Kensington Guardians now need the work- 
house for their own purposes this arrangement has of necessity 
ceased . . . The number of really able-bodied men in the 
London workhouses at one time is never very large, but it is 
large enough to make it extremely desirable that there should 
be at least one workhouse exclusively for such a class, to which, 
and to which only, they might be admitted." * 

1 Special Order to Poplar Union, 4th February 1881; Local Government 
Board to Poplar Guardians, 9th February 1881 ; MS. Minutes, Poplar 
Guardians, 18th February 1881. 

2 Special Orders of 13th October 1880, 24th August 1881, and 11th 
February 1887. 

3 MS. Minutes, Manchester Guardians, July and August 1887. The 
Manchester Guardians did not act on this, but ten years later united with the 
Chorlton Guardians in setting aside (under the Poor Law Act 1879) one work- 
house for the double purpose of a casual ward and ' ' a test house for able-bodied 
paupers " (See, Special Orders to Manchester and Chorlton, dated 20th March 
1897, and 9th April 1898 ; Twenty-Seventh Annual Report, 1897-8, pp. 127-8). 
This still continues. The whole experience of these Able-bodied Test Work- 
houses is reviewed in the Minority Report, 1909. 

* Mr. Lockwood's Report, in Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. 446. 
Already in 1898, however, the Central Authority had told its inspectors to urge 
that oakum-picking, which had been the staple of the test workhouse, should be 



1 64 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

As an adjunct of the policy of the deterrent workhouse 
for the able-bodied, we have to note the coming-in of com- 
pulsory detention. This, of course, had been entirely absent 
from "the principles of 1834," according to which every 
inmate of the workhouse was to be free to quit it, with no 
more notice than was required for the convenience of the 
establishment. "Much evil," said a Circular of 1871, "has 
arisen, and . . . the discipline of the workhouse has been 
seriously impaired by the frequent exercise of the power 
which the inmates have hitherto possessed of discharging 
themselves from the workhouse at short and uncertain notice, 
claiming re-admission as might best suit their inclination and 
convenience." This was remedied by a statute in 1871 which 
gave the guardians a power to detain, with which we shall 
deal in our section on the workhouse.^ 

(vi.) The Provision of Umployment 

In the midst of all the efforts of the inspectorate to secure 
stricter administration, made apparently with the ungrudging 
support of the Central Authority, there came, in February 
1886, an altogether incongruous intervention by the new 
President (Mr. Chamberlain), who had then been only a few 
weeks in office. On 19th February 1886, he addressed a 
public letter to the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of 
Works, saying that "there is considerable distress amongst 
workpeople of a class above that of the persons who usually 

given up, as an occupation for workhouse inmates, especially for women ; and 
did not suggest any possible alternative (Twenty-eighth Annual Report, 1898-9, 
p. Ixxxiv). " Oakum-picking by the inmates of the workhouses should be 
discontinued," said Mr. Chaplin (Hansard, 23rd May 1898, vol. 58, p. 326). 
This was a complete reversal of policy. As recently as 1890 the Central 
Authority had actually invited the Poplar Board of Guardians to undertake some 
oakum- picking for the Government, and the board had undertaken to pick 80 
tons at £3 per ton (Local Government Board to Poplar Board of Guardians, 
9th July 1890). By 1904, not only oakum-picking, but also corn-giinding 
with a piecework task, was given up. ' ' As regards the proposed task of corn- 
grinding, the board state that in cases where their consent is necessary they do 
not sanction a task of corn-grinding by quantity, and they consider that a time 
limit should be fixed for such work. As to oakum-picking, they are of opinion 
that, on account of its associations, it is open to objection as a task for 
workhouse inmates, and as far as practicable, it should be discontinued for 
all inmates of workhouses " (Local Government Board to Islington Union, 
September 1904 ; Local Government Chronicle, 8th October 1904, p. 1049). 

1 34 & 35 Vic. c. 108, sec. 4; Circular of 18th November 1871, in First. 
Annual Report, 1871-2, p. 54. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 165 

apply for poor law relief " ; and urging the Board " to 
expedite as far as practicable the commencement of any- 
public works which they may be contemplating, so that 
additional employment may be afforded." ^ Four weeks later 
this policy was embodied in a circular to all boards of guar- 
dians, which may be said to have begun, for good or for evil, 
a new era as regards the treatment of such of the able-bodied 
as were classed as " the unemployed." Whilst nominally 
upholding the workhouse test and, when that is impossible, 
the labour test,^ for the relief of the able-bodied pauper, 
the circular lays it down emphatically that an altogether 
different provision must be made for the unemployed wage- 
earner. The President was "convinced that in the ranks 
of those who do not ordinarily seek poor law relief there 
is evidence of much and increasing privation," among persons 
" usually in regular employment." It was, in his view, " not 
desirable that the working classes should be familiarised with 
Poor Law Eelief " ; and the guardians were recommended " to 
endeavour to arrange" with the local municipal authorities 
for the execution of such public works as the laying out, 
paving and cleansing of streets, sewerage and water works, 
the laying-out of recreation grounds and new cemeteries, and 
" spade husbandry on sewage farms." The men to be selected 
from among the special class referred to were to be engaged 
by the municipal authorities upon the recommendation of the 
^ guardians. They were to be paid wages, though at somewhat 
^^J" below the ordinary rates ; every encouragement being given to 
^ the municipal authorities to raise loans for the purpose. The 
jf^ men would thus not be paupers, nor in receipt of anything from 
* h * the Poor Eate, the intervention of the guardians being con- 
^ fined to inciting the local municipal authorities to undertake 
the work, and to recommending the candidates for employment.^ 

1 Mr. Chamberlain to Metropolitan Board of Works, 19th February 1886, 
in House of Commons, No. 69 of 1886, p. 44. 

- The Circular incidentally criticised the character of the labour test usually 
imposed on the able-bodied applicant for poor relief, as being unfit for skilled 
artisans. Spade labour was suggested as " less objectionable " ; and "the board 
will be glad to assist the guardians by authorising the hiring of land for the 
purpose" of setting a task of work to able-bodied paupers on outdoor relief 
(Circular of 15th March 1886, in Sixteenth Annual Eeport, 1886-7, p. 6). 
This has now been done at Leicester, where the board of guardians hires land on 
which to set the able-bodied to dig (Thirty-third Annual Report, 1903-4, p. 205). 

3 Circular of 15th March 1886, in Sixteenth Annual Report, 1886-7, pp. 5-7. 



1 66 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



The policy thus laid down by Mr. Chamberlain, of finding 
municipal work for the unemployed, was, it will be seen, a 
revival of the expedient adopted in the Lancashire Cotton 
Famine. But Mr. Chamberlain omitted to safeguard his 
proposal in the way in which the works started out of the 
Government loans to the Lancashire municipal authorities in 
1863-6 had been (in practice, though not explicitly in terms) 
safeguarded. It was not explained — perhaps it was not 
realised — that the conditions of success in the Lancashire 
experiment had been : (i.) that no pretence should be made of 
taking on the unemployed as such, and, in particular, that the 
casual labourer class, whether temporarily unemployed or 
not, should be definitely excluded; and (ii.) that the direct 
advantage to unemployed workmen should be limited to the 
taking on, to do the unskilled labourer's work, of a restricted 
proportion of selected applicants, not of the labouring but ol 
the skilled artisan class. These necessary conditions were 
not expounded by the Central Authority either in 1886 or 
in subsequent years. Successive presidents repeated Mr. 
Chamberlain's suggestions, with no more limitations than he 
had laid down. Mr. Eitchie, for instance, in the following 
year, told a deputation of Boards of Guardians that, although 
they could not legally give employment, as distinguished from 
poor relief, they "might assist the local authorities, if the 
latter undertook public works, by sending to them persons 
applying for relief, who would no doubt prefer to be relieved 
by temporary employment rather than by becoming a burden 
on the rates." ^ In 1 8 9 1 (a year of " good trade," by the 
way) Mr. Eitchie sent a circular to the Metropolitan vestries 
and district boards, urging them to provide employment by 
street cleaning, etc., " in concert with the Boards of Guardians," 
who were to be " afforded the opportunity of recommending 
for employment persons who from their previous circumstances 
and condition it is most desirable should not be placed under 
the necessity of receiving relief at the cost of the rates." ^ 

* Mr. KitcMe to deputation as to children in workhouses, sea Local Govern- 
me7it Chronicle, 17th December 1887, p. 1058. 

2 Circular of 16th January 1891, in Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-91, 
p. 206 ; Local Government Board to Poplar Board of Guardians, 21st January 
1891 {see for the action thereon of Boards of Guardians, MS. archives, Poplar 
Board of Guardians, January 1891). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 167 

Similar letters were sent to the Boards of Guardians. In 
November 1892, Mr, Fowler, afterwards Lord Wolverhampton, 
reproduced Mr. Chamberlain's Circular of 1886, and recom- 
mended municipal works, "in order that the pauperisation 
of those persons whose difficulties are occasioned only by 
exceptional circumstances arising from temporary scarcity of 
employment . . . may as far as practicable be avoided." ^ 
In 1893 again, under Mr. Shaw Lefevre's presidency, similar 
circulars were sent out.^ In 1895, Mr. Shaw Lefevre, after- 
wards Lord Eversley, again issued circulars using the very 
phrases of that of 1886, which were addressed, first to all the 
boards of guardians, and then to all the rural and urban 
district councils, asking the former about the distress, and 
urging the latter to undertake works, in conference with the 
boards of guardians, in order to afford employment to artisans 
and others, reduced to want through the prolonged frost.^ 
The House of Commons, two days later, appointed a 
Committee to consider what could be done, at the request 
of which circulars were sent to all municipalities and district 
councils asking what had been done.'* Called upon to justify 
itself by the Committee presided over by Mr., afterwards 
Sir Henry, Campbell - Bannerman, the Central Authority 
explained what had been done, both in the way of Presidential 
Circulars about unemployment, and in the way of Poor Law 
relief to the able-bodied. It did not in this emergency 
suggest or issue any new General Orders, but it sanctioned 
"departures from the rules as regards outdoor relief in 
particular cases." ^ Moreover, there was, as Sir Hugh Owen 
explained, "no indisposition on the part of the Local Govern- 
ment Board to comply with an application from a board of 

1 Circular of 14th November 1892, in Twenty-second Annual Report, 
1892-3, p. 38. 

2 Circulars of 27th March and 30th September 1893, Twenty-third Annual 
Report, 1893-4, pp. Ixiv-lxv; Board of Ti-ade Report on Agencies and Methods 
for dealing with the Unemployed, 1893 (C. 7182), pp. 187-206. 

3 Twenty-fourth Annual Report, 1894-5, pp. Ixxi-lxxiii. The local authorities 
were taking action before the Circular was sent ; see, for instance, MS. Minutes, 
Bradford Board of Guardians, 4th February 1895, showing that they had 
decided on a deputation to the town council on 23rd January ; and that the 
town council, on 25th January, had agreed to find work in clearing away snow. 

* Ibid. p. Ixxiii ; First, Second, and Third Reports of the Select Committee 
on Distress from Want of Employment, 1896. 

^ Twenty-fourth Annual Report, 1894-5, p. Ixxiv. 



i68 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

guardians for the issue of the Outdoor Labour Test Order 
when the circumstances have appeared to be such as to require 
it." ^ Meanwhile the public controversy that was taking place, 
the reports of the proceedings of the Committee, and above 
all the circulars demanding information from all the local 
authorities in the Kingdom, enormously stimulated the idea 
that the unemployed had got to be specially dealt with in 
such a way as to " prevent the stigma of pauperism, and the 
consequent loss of citizenship."^ The Committee, after 
making elaborate inquiries, practically endorsed the policy of 
Mr. Chamberlain's Circular of 1886, of bringing municipal 
work to the aid of the unemployed, and carried it even further. 
They definitely recommended the adoption, as a constant 
feature of municipal work, though only in respect of the 
annually recurring slackness of employment in the winter 
months, of the policy of using the public orders in such a way 
as to regularise the aggregate volume of employment. As 
regards the Metropolis, it was recommended that individual 
boards of guardians might contribute, with the sanction of the 
Local Government Board, out of the Metropolitan Common 
Poor Fund, half the cost of the works undertaken by the 
vestries or district boards at their instance.^ Moreover, as 
it had been discovered that the Acts of 1819 and 1830 had 
not been repealed, which authorised the local Poor Law 
authorities to purchase or hire not exceeding 50 acres of 
land on which to set the poor to work at reasonable wages — 
statutes which the Central Authority had persistently ignored 
as obsolete, and had refused to make the rules under which 
alone they could be made operative — the Committee 
recommended : " That the Local Government Board should 
consider the application of such powers, and make rules for 
the use of boards of guardians in relation thereto." ^ 

1 Third Report of Select Committee on Distress from Want of Employment, 
1895, p. 560. 

2 The Lord Mayor of Manchester, in reply to deputation from the Chorlton 
Board of Guardians, 1895 ; see Second Report of Committee on Distress from 
Want of Employment, 1895, p. 64). 

3 Third Report of Committee on Distress from Want of Employment, 1895, 
p. V. The Committee also recommended the abolition of the penalty of dis- 
franchisement, on persons in Teceipt of poor relief, so far as ' ' the deserving man 
forced to become dependent on public aid " was concerned {Ibid.). 

* Ibid. p. iv. See Mr. Shaw Lefevre's answer in House of Commons 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 169 

Finally we come, with regard to the relief of the section 
of the able-bodied who may be deemed to be "the unemployed," 
to Mr. Long's scheme, embodied in the Unemployed Workmen 
Act of 1905, under which distress committees of the local 
municipal councils, formed partly of members nominated by 
the boards of guardians, are empowered to make special 
provision for those of the able-bodied who are " unemployed," 
without their becoming paupers, in the way of: (i.) emigration ; 
(ii.) internal migration; (iii.) temporary employment; (iv.) 
farm colonies ; or (v.) labour exchanges ; at the expense, so 
far as emigration, migration, labour exchanges, and the cost of 
the whole machinery are concerned, of the local municipal 
rates, and, so far as the actual relief or wages is concerned, of 
voluntary subscriptions or subventions from the National 
Exchequer,^ 

(vii.) Tlie, Farm Colony 

Meanwhile various boards of guardians had obtained the 
sanction of the Central Authority for another method of 
dealing with that section of the able-bodied who are termed 
" the unemployed." Upon the pressing and repeated advice 
of the Central Authority itself, the Poplar Board (which did 
not at first respond to the suggestion^) had in later years 
cordially co-operated with the local municipal authority in 
making employment for the unemployed. The increase in the 
number of able-bodied applicants had continued. The work- 

18th February 1895 {Hansard, vol. 30, p. 969). The Central Authoritj- 
persisted in its attitude with regard to these powers, and the rules, without 
which they cannot be used, have not in fact been issued ; see Mr. Gerald 
Balfour's answer in House of Commons, 19th July 1905 {Hansard, vol. 149, 
pp. 1179-80). Similar powers were, however, granted to distress committees of 
local municipal authorities by the Unemployed Workmen Act 1905, under which 
the necessary rules have been issued. 

1 5 Edw. VII. c. 18 (Unemployed Workmen Act 1905) ; Local Government 
Board to Metropolitan Mayors, 20th October 1904, and Circulars of 24th and 
31st October 1904, 20th September, 10th October, 8th and 22nd December 
1905, 13th January 1906 ; Orders of 20th September, 10th October, 6th 
December 1905, 13th January 1906. Thirty-fourth Annual Report, 1904-5, pp. 
cxxii-iii, 150-6 ; Thirty-fifth Annual Keport, 1905-6, pp. clxxx-cxcii, 349-438. 

2 In answer to an inquiry in 1887, as to what action had been taken on the 
Circular of 1886, the Poplar Board of Guardians replied that no exceptional 
measures had been taken, and that they had found it unnecessary even to open 
a labour yard (Local Government Board to Poplar, 11th January 1887; 
Poplar to Local Government Board, 12th January 1887). 



I70 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

house was full, and indeed overcrowded. In October 1893 
Mr. Lansbury had tried in vain to induce his fellow guardians 
to apply for the (Whitechapel) Modified Workhouse Test 
Order, permitting the admission to the workhouse of the men 
alone, whilst the families received outdoor relief. Two months 
later the Central Authority was asked to sanction the ex- 
penditure of £500 chargeable to the Metropolitan Common 
Poor Pund, to provide work for able-bodied applicants on 
three days a week. The Central Authority felt unable to 
sanction so vague a proposal, and practically invited a more 
definite scheme. Presently the idea of a farm colony, on 
which to employ able-bodied men, whilst their families 
remained on outdoor relief in London, received the approval 
of a conference of Metropolitan guardians. The Central 
Authority stated that, whilst it could not sanction any com- 
bination of areas with this object, it would consider any 
proposal by a board of guardians for the purpose. When, 
however, the Poplar Board of Guardians made such a proposal, 
the Central Authority declined to contemplate any action 
under the statutes of 1819 and 1830 already referred to, and 
persisted in regarding the proposed farm colony as merely a 
branch workhouse, deprecating it on account of the expense 
and distance.^ Finally, by the generosity of Mr. Joseph Pels 
in placing land gratuitously at the disposal of the Poplar 
Board, the project in 1904 got under way, and the Central 
Authority (after suggesting, as an alternative, the use of the 
test workhouse at Kensington, which, as above mentioned, 
was on the point of coming to an end) sanctioned the extensive 
farm colony at Laindon under the pretence that it was a 
temporary workhouse, to which all the regulations of the 
General Consolidated Order of 1847, and all the elaborately 
prescribed dietaries of the Dietaries and Accounts Order of 
1900, were nominally to apply.^ At first the view of the Central 

1 Local Government Board to Poplar Board of Guardians, 15tli January, 
6tli June, 17tli August, and 4th October 1895 ; MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of 
Guardians, 1895-1900. 

2 No Order appears to have been issued, sanctioning or regulating this new 
experiment, the Local Government Board's approval being apparently conveyed, 
partly by a brief letter, partly by verbal communications through the inspector 
(MS. archives, Poplar Board of Guardians, 8th and 22nd July, 16th and 30th 
September, 21st October, 25th JSTovember 1903 ; 13th April 1904 ; Local 
Government Board to Poplar Union, 16th and 28th July 1903, and 11th April 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 171 

Authority seems to have been that the men were not receiving 
indoor relief, but were, under the Out-relief Eegulation Order 
of 1852, performing a task of work in a temporary workhouse, 
and were thus, we assume, receiving outdoor relief in respect 
of their wives and families in return for such a labour test. 
In February 1905, however, the so-called (Whitechapel) 
Modified Workhouse Test Order was issued to Poplar, under 
which the men alone could be admitted to the workhouse, and 
become indoor paupers, their wives and families receiving 
outdoor relief.^ 

Meanwhile the farm colony experiment was being tried in 
another form. The Central Authority gave its sanction, in 
March 1904, to the Poplar Board of Guardians sending some 
of their able-bodied male paupers to the Hadleigh farm colony 
of the Salvation Army, at a payment at the rate of £28 : 12s. 
per annum for each man, in addition to the outdoor relief 
granted to his wife and family.^ In the following year it 
gave its sanction to a similar proposal by the Bradford Board 
of Guardians.^ We do not know in what other instances the 
Central Authority tried this particular form of the farm 
colony experiment. The Lingfield farm colony of the Church 
Army was also being made use of by some boards of guardians, 
presumably with the sanction of the Central Authority.^ We 
do not understand why these interesting farm colony experi- 
ments undertaken by Poplar, Bradford, and other boards of 

1904. The Central Authority refused to modify the General Dietaries 
and Accounts Order 1900, which had prescribed model dietaries for inmates 
of workhouses, but had not included any for men engaged all day out-of-doors 
at agiicultural labour, but it sanctioned the extra expenditure illegally incurred 
for a more appropriate dietary (Local Government Board to Poplar, 10 th 
January 1905 ; MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 11th January 1905). 

1 Special Order to Poplar of 4th February 1905 (modified workhouse test). 
It is not clear whether : (i.) the men at the farm colony ; or (ii.) their families, 
were in 1904 included in the statistics of indoor, or in those of outdoor, 
pauperism ; nor whether any change in the actual statistical classification was 
made on receipt of the Order of February 1905. 

2 MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 30th March, 18th May, 15th 
June 1904 ; Local Government Board to Poplar Board of Guardians, 25th 
March and 2nd June 1904. 

3 Local Government Board to Bradford Board of Guardians, 14th January 

1905. The Bradford Board had asked the Central Authority in vain, two 
years before, to get powers to enable Boards of Guardians to combine to form 
labour colonies of their own, especially for vagrants (MS. archives, Bradford 
Board of Guardians, Febniary 1903). 

* Local Government Board to Poplar Board of Guardians, 1st December 
1903. 



1 72 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

guardians, with the special sanction of the Central Authority, 
find no mention, either in its annual reports for 1904-5 or 
1905-6, or in the reports for those years of the inspectors for 
the districts. 

B. — Vageai^ts 

The adoption, between 1886 and 1907, of a policy of 
discriminating between some able-bodied applicants and others, 
according to their character and circumstances, with a view 
(whether by Poor Law farm colony or by the relief works and 
labour exchanges of the distress committees) to the rehabilita- 
tion of the man really seeking work, makes all the more 
remarkable the retention, during the whole period, of a contrary 
policy with regard to wayfarers or vagrants. We find the 
Central Authority, from 1871 onwards, consistently main- 
taining for this class a policy of indiscriminate relief on 
demand, under deterrent conditions, distinctly " less eligible 
than the poorest accommodation of the independent labourer, 
free from any trace of wish for, or attempt at, reform or cure, 
and intended to be uniform throughout the kingdom. There 
was, for instance, after 1871, no reversion to the policy 
so frequently adumbrated between 1847 and 1871, of dis- 
criminating between the professional tramp and the hoiia fide 
workman in search of employment, reserving the deterrent 
casual ward for the one, and granting a night's lodging 
without conditions to the other. On the contrary, the basis 
of the new policy of 1871 was the universal establishment of 
the deterrent casual ward for all wayfarers, and the exclusion 
from the workhouse of even the worthiest among them. This 
uniformity was to be secured by the Pauper Inmates Discharge 
and Eegulation Act, 1871,^ which provided that a casual 
pauper should not be entitled to discharge himself before 
11 a.m. on the day following his admission, or, if found a 
second time in one casual ward within a month, not till 
9 a.m. on the third day, nor in any case until he had 
performed a prescribed task. The Act also made for uniformity 
by requiring the guardians to provide such casual wards as 
the Central Authority thought necessary, and by subjecting 
the admission, diet, and task to its Orders. From this time 

1 34 & 35 Vic. c. 108, sees. 5, 6, 9. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 173 

forth, therefore, the Central Authority assumes complete 
responsibility for the treatment of vagrants. Its Circular of 
1871 begins by condemning the work of its predecessors. 
" The result of the system hitherto adopted in the relief of 
this class of paupers cannot be regarded as successful, for 
while there has been no uniformity of treatment as to diet 
and work there has been neglect in many unions to provide 
proper and sufficient wards." ^ The Central Authority 
enunciated once more the need for national uniformity, 
pointing out that stringent regulations in one union caused 
vagrants to vary their route and resort to another place, and 
expressed an intention of requiring that suitable accommodation 
should be provided at every workhouse. But no uniformity 
was actually prescribed. The examples of Bath and Corwen 
unions were quoted for the guidance of others. At Bath 
vagrants had to apply for relief at the police station, whence 
able-bodied men were sent to the workhouse, where they were 
relieved, and required to perform a three hours' task of stone- 
breaking, while women, children, and old and infirm men 
were relieved at a refuge without any task. The Central 
Authority mentioned this system with apparent approval, and 
remarked that it had diminished the vagrancy of Bath by over 
58 per cent. At Corwen a proposal was approved to place 
the vagrant wards in the yard of the police station, and 
appoint a police officer as assistant relieving officer.^ But the 

1 Circular Letter on Vagrancy of 18th November 1871, in First Annual 
Report, 1871-2, p. 55. 

2 This Circular was issued after the passing of the Pauper Inmates Discharge 
and Regulation Act, and a few days before the General Order, of which the 
provisions will shortly be described. In the next year the Board reported a 
diminution in the number of vagrants, and allowed some of the less stringent 
of the Metropolitan casual wards to be closed, an action which caused difficulties 
in later years. In the unions where there were no casual wards, ordinary 
vagrants were referred to that of a neighbouring union, but the workhouse 
officials were bound to admit any applicants who, from sickness or other cause, 
were imable to proceed farther, and generally any case of urgent necessity 
(Second Annual Report, 1872-3, pp. xxii-xxiii). In 1872 also the Board advised 
guardians to dispense with the services of police constables as assistant relieving 
officers, and appoint the superintendents of the casual wards instead (Circular 
on Vagrancy in the Metropolis, of 30th May 1872 ; in ibid. p. 17). Na 
reason is given for this change, and thirty years later the co-operation of the 
police in this manner is still assumed, for the board sanction a subscription 
by the guardians towards the cost of providing a mid-day meal for vagrants 
when proceeding from one workhouse to another, "where the superintendent of 
police is appointed assistant relieving officer for vagrants " {Local Government 
Chronicle, 29th November 1902, p. 1203). 



174 ENGLISH POOR LA VV POLICY 

stream of vagrants, after a merely temporary abatement, con- 
tinued to grow. In 1882 the Central Authority got 
another statute, and issued another order, increasing the 
period of detention and otherwise making the conditions more 
deterrent'^ — still without laying down any policy of dis- 
crimination between wayfarers of one sort and wayfarers of 
another. A few more years' experience showed that the 
detention really operated against the virtuous wayfarer, who 
found himself discharged too late to get the work for which 
he had tramped. The remedy of the Central Authority was 
to issue circulars suggesting that the guardians should give 
orders that casual paupers who had done their task on the 
preceding day should be allowed to leave early in the 
morning.^ Some boards of guardians acted on this, others did 
not — thus destroying the national uniformity at which the 
Central Authority had aimed. Finally, in 1892, in tardy 
response to a recommendation of the House of Lords Committee 
of 1888, a Circular and an Order were issued, " with the view 
of facilitating the search for work by casual paupers who are 
desirous of obtaining employment," which gave to every 
inmate of the casual ward, who had performed his task to the 
best of his ability, an absolute right to claim his discharge at 
5.30 A.M. in summer, or 6 p.m. in winter, on the second day 
after admission, on his merely representing " that he is 
desirous of seeking work."^ Whether from this or other 
causes, the stream of vagrants continued to grow, with the 
usual fluctuations. In 1904 the numbers passed all previous 
records, and so unsatisfactory had proved the policy of 1871- 
1904 that a Departmental Committee was appointed to find a 



new one.* 



G. — Women 



It was in this period of 1871-1907 that the Central 

Authority began to lay down a policy with regard to women 

» 45 and 46 Vic. c. 36 (Casual Poor Act 1882) ; General Order of 18th 
December 1882, in Twelfth Annual Report, 1882-3, pp. 64-71. The Metropolis 
was now deemed to be one town for the purpose of punishing resort to the 
casual ward more than once in a month. 

2 Circulars of 16th April 1885, 7th November 1887, and 18th January 1888 ; 
see Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Annual Reports. 

3 Cii'cular of 13th June 1892 ; Order of 11th June 1892 ; Twenty-Second 
Annual Report, 1892-3, pp. 14-15. 

■* /S'ee its Report, Cd. 2852 of 1906. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 175 

as women; significantly enough, as part of the restrictive 
policy brought in by the inspectorate. Women continued to 
be practically ignored in the statutes and orders, so that 
their legal position remained virtually unchauged.-^ But 
without any change in the orders, or in the division 
of the whole country into geographical regions under 
which, as we have shown, women had different claims to relief, 
the Central Authority sought by circulars, minutes, decisions, 
and the persistent pressure of the inspectorate, to discourage 
the grant of outdoor relief to particular classes of women. 
Thus outdoor relief to able-bodied single women without 
illegitimate children continued to be permissible, without any 
labour test or other conditions, in all the unions under the 
Out-relief Eegulation Order; and the area under this Order 
continued to grow in population, until it amounted, by 1907, 
to three-fourths of the whole. But by Circular of 2nd December 
1871, the Central Authority advised that outdoor relief 
should not be given in any case whatsoever of this class.^ 
Such outdoor relief was specifically prohibited in the rules 
adopted by the Manchester Board of Guardians in 1875, 
which were frequently commended to the notice of other 
Boards of Guardians, who, under inspectorial pressure, 
voluntarily put themselves under similar rules.^ In the same 
way, without alteration of the Orders, it was urged that 
deserted wives should not be given outdoor relief, at any rate 
during the first twelve mouths after the desertion.* It was 

1 By the Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1876, the law 
which had for poor relief purposes put a woman whose husband was beyond 
seas in the same position as a widow was extended to a married woman living 
separate from her husband (39 & 40 Vic. c. 61 sec. 18 ; Selections from the 
Correspondence of the Local Government Board, vol. iii. 1888, p. 186). It is 
also to be noted that under the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, a married 
woman having separate property was made liable to maintain her husband, and, 
concurrently with her husband, also her children and grandchildren if they 
became chargeable to the poor rate (45 & 46 Vic. c. 75, sees. 20, 21). 

2 Circular, 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. 67. 

3 For the "Manchester Rules" see Fifth Annual Report, 1875-6, pp. 
xvii-xix, 130-133. Somewhat similar rules were at the instance of the in- 
spectorate adopted by the Cheshire Unions as late as 1891 (Twenty-iii'st Annual 
Report, 1891-2, pp. 164-5). 

* Circular of 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. 67. 
This suggestion we trace to Mr. Corbett, in 1869, though in the milder form 
of limiting the grant of outdoor relief to recently deserted wives, to two or three 
weeks only (Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871, as reprinted by the 
Central Authority for official circulation, February 1873). Ten years later the 



1 76 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

officially declared to be " inexpedient to allow outdoor relief 
to the wives and children of persons who are in gaol " — not 
merely of convicted prisoners under sentence, but also of 
those not under sentence, nearly all of whom are still uncon- 
victed, and, therefore, legally presumed to be innocent — and 
this in spite of the admitted fact that " the law has provided 
that regulations prescribed with regard to widows shall apply 
to the wives in these cases," so that the Central Authority 
had no power to make a prohibitory order. ^ So, too, the 
" wives of men in the first class Army Eeserve," to whom 
relief could not be actually prohibited without trouble with 
the War Office, were declared not to need constant relief, as 
" an able-bodied woman with the Government allowance and 
such assistance as her husband ought to provide from his 
pay and allowances should have no difficulty in finding, if 
not immediately, at least within a reasonable period after her 
husband's departure, sufficient employment to enable her to 
maintain adequately herself and her children." But outdoor 
relief might be given for a short period, and, it was suggested, 
on loan.^ Even to widows, who, it was now recognised, 
accounted for a third of the whole pauper population,^ outdoor 
relief was — apparently for the first time in the whole history 
of the Central Authority from 1834, so far as we can find 
— now officially discouraged. It was strongly recommended 
that it should not be given at all to " any able-bodied widow 
with one child only." Even where there were "more than 

Central Authority found that this policy was not justified by the law, so far as 
regards deserted wives having children under seven (as is the case with most of 
them). In such cases it was found necessary in 1880 to advise that outdoor 
relief could, in case of destitution, not be refused, even if the woman was able- 
bodied, and ii-respective of her character, the cause or duration of the husband's 
absence, possible collusion with him, etc. The Central Authority decided 
that, "assuming that the aj^plicant in this case is a married woman, whose 
husband, though living, is not residing with her, she would not be liable for the 
support of the children, who, being within the age of nurture, cannot lawfully 
be separated from her ; and the guardians would not be justified, under these 
circumstances, in mthholding out-relief for the children " (^Selections from the 
Correspondence of the Local Government Board, vol. ii. 1880, p. 71). 

1 Local Government Board to Chairman of Central Poor Law Conference, 
12th May 1877, in Seventh Annual Keport, 1877-8, p. 56. 

2 Circular, 30th August 1882, in Twelfth Annual Report, 1882-3, pp. 43-4, 

3 "Widows and their dependent children [on 1st January 1873, 25,740j 
constitute 33 per cent of the total outdoor pauperism of London, and 57 per cent 
of so much of that pauperism as is caused otherwise than by age and permanent 
infirmity" (Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 179). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 177 

one child, it may be desirable to take one or more of the 
children into the workhouse in preference to giving outdoor 
relief." ^ It is characteristic that this policy was not based on 
any consideration of what was the appropriate treatment for 
the child, but was regarded only as a " test," by which it was ; 
intended to exclude every widow who could possibly maintain ; 
herself and family without poor relief. Six years later we 
have it observed, as a capital drawback to this policy, not 
that the children might suffer by being taken into the work- 
house, but that " since the passing of the Elementary Education 
Acts this offer as a test of destitution has not the same effect 
as previously, inasmuch as the children being required to 
attend school, the mothers cannot have the benefit of any 
earnings which otherwise the children might obtain." ^ And 
though the Central Authority refused, in 1877; to make 

1 Circular of 2nd December 1871, in First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. 67. 
The injurious results of this policy were reported by Mr. Culley, see his Report 
in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 74. On the other hand Mr. Longley 
preferred the " oiler of the House " to widows, in order to make their deceased 
husbands provident. "The condition of a widow with a large family," said 
Mr. Longley, ' ' however deplorable it undoubtedly is, is one of the ordinary 
contingencies of human circumstances, which may, in some degree or other, be 
provided against equally with sickness, or accident, or other bereavement. . . . 
A man in receipt of regular weekly wages may be fairly called upon to secure 
his widow if [unjable to work for her living, against dependence upon Poor Law 
relief" (Mr. Longley's Report, in Thkd Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. 183, 
185). 

^ Local Government Board to Chaii-man of Central Poor Law Conference, 
12th May 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 56. Some of the 
inspectors altogether disapproved of the policy of taking the children into the 
workhouse (see, for instance, Mr. Culley's Report, in Third Annual Report, 
1873-4, p. 74). One inspector, at least, realised the connection of the 
destitution due to widowhood with the absence of compensation for accidents 
and industrial diseases among workmen. " Male life, at least, is longer in the 
rural than in the manufacturing, mining, and seaport unions. In the latter 
. . . male life is more frequently cut short by illness or accident arising from 
the nature of the employment. . . . The proportion of children (exclusive of 
orphans) to Avidows . . . varies from 0-48 in the purely agricultural union of 
Bedale to 2 '30 in the manufacturing and shipbuilding district of Jan-ow. . . . 
I found ... on examining the returns from the different relief districts that 
the highest rate of mortality amongst husbands prevailed in the inland portion 
of the union, a state of things which the relieving officers attributed to accidents 
in shipbuilding yards and the unwholesome nature of the employment in 
chemical works. In the same manner, in Tynemouth Union, I found that the 
proportion of widows with young families was considerably higher in the 
mining district than in the town of North Shields. ... In Teesdale the rate 
of mortality amongst the leadminers is very great, owing, I was informed, to the 
bad ventilation of the mines " (Mr. Culley's Report, in Third Annual Report, 
1873-4, pp. 72-3). We do not find that the point was followed up until the 
Workmen's Compensation Act of 1900. 

N 



178 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

illegal the grant of outdoor relief to " widows within six 
months of their widowhood " — declaring, indeed, that " a 
widow, with or without children, could not, on the death of 
her husband, in all cases be required to go into the workhouse " 
— it was not obscurely hinted that " it may be that the period 
of six months now allowed is too long," and that " the guardians 
should exercise their discretion in dealing with each case 
according to its merits." ^ The example of the Bradfield 
Union, where "the widow's month" had, since about 1873, 
been substituted for "the widow's six months," was always 
being commended to boards of guardians by the inspectorate. 
Moreover, in the Metropolis, at Manchester, at Birmingham, 
and various other places, it was strongly recommended in 
these years that outdoor relief to able-bodied independent 
women should be given only with a labour test ; which might 
be (as at Manchester) " the enforced silence and order of the 
needle-room," where the women, at any rate, learnt to knit, 
and sew, and darn a stocking, or, as at Birmingham and Poplar, 
what Mr. Corbett called " the comparative licence and 
desultory work of the ordinary oakum room." ^ The task of 
oakum picking was eventually preferred by the Central 
Authority, and, down to the last decade of the century, it was 
>/ this that was recommended to boards of guardians. The 
effect of this long-continued and persistent pressure for the 
first twenty years of the Local Government Board, without 
any alteration in the legal status of women by order or 
statute, is seen in the statistics of outdoor relief. The able- 
bodied women getting outdoor relief on 1st January 1871, 
numbered 116,407.^ On 1st January 1892, they had been 
brought down to 53,571, the reduction having been principally 
in : {a) wives of able-bodied men ; (&) single women without 
. children ; and (c) wives of men in gaol, in the Army, Navy, 
etc., or otherwise absent. But the number of widows on 

* Local Government Board to Chairman of Central Poor Law Conference, 
12tli May 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, pp. 55-6. We find the 
policy of reducing "the widow's six months " suggested by Mr. Corbett in 1869. 
At the Conference of East End Guardians summoned by him, it was agi-eed ' ' that 
the widows without children should, as a rule, after a period not exceeding three 
months from the commencement of their widowhood, be relieved only in the work- 
house" (Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871 ; as reprinted by the Central 
Authority for official circulation, February 1873). ^ 7jj;^, 

3 Twenty-third Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1870-1, p. 374. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 179 

outdoor relief had also been reduced from 53,502 in 1873 to 
36,627 on 1st January 1892.^ 

After 1885, though some of the inspectors continued to 
recommend, with regard to women, the strict policy of 1871,^ 
the Local Government Board itself, so far as we can discover, 
reverted to silence on the point, and gave no advice. 

JD. — Childken 
(i.) On Outdoor Relief 

There seems to have been, so far as regards children, no 
explicit change in policy in 1871. To take first the 336,870 
children under sixteen who were on outdoor relief on 1st 
January 1871^ — almost exactly one- third of the aggregate 
pauperism — we see continued the same ignoring of their 
general condition. We do not find that the inspectors ever 
investigated what was happening to these children or that the 
Central Authority ever made any official inquiry, still less issued 
any order, on the subject. The general policy of restricting out- 
door relief, which we have sufficiently described, had incidentally 
the effect, in the course of twenty years, of reducing the number 
of children on outdoor relief by nearly one-half,* 

On one point, indeed, that of education, as we have seen, 
Parliament had explicitly over-ridden the implied contention 
that the Poor Law Authorities had no responsibility for the 
welfare of the children on outdoor relief. The policy of 
Denison's Act of 1855, which had been comparatively little 
acted upon, was extended in 1873 so as to make it compulsory 
on boards of guardians to see that such children between five 
and thirteen were regularly at school.^ The guardians were 

1 Third Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 1873-4, p. 588 ; 
Twenty-first Annual Report, 1891-2, p. 365. 

2 It is, however, to be noted that in the model rules which the most 
zealous inspectors were pressing on Boards of Guardians in 1902 — herein 
differing from the much commended Manchester rules of 1875 — the widow with 
only one child is recognised as a fit case for outdoor relief (Mr, Preston- 
Thomas's Report, in Thirty-Second Annual Report, 1902-3, p. 100). 

3 Twenty-third Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1870-71, p. 378. 

* On 1st January 1892, the 336,870 children of 1871 had fallen to 
177,245, probably the lowest figure of the whole seventy years (Twenty-first 
Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 1891-2, p. 365). 

6 36 & 37 Vic. c. 86, sec. 3 (Elementary Education Act 1873) ; 39 & 40 
Vic. c. 79, sec. 40 (Elementary Education Act 1876) ; 43 & 44 Vic. c. 23, 



i8o ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

even required to pay the school fees for children — even 
illegitimate children — who were not paupers, if they needed 
this, and the parents did not thereby become paupers.^ "We 
see the Central Authority communicating these decisions 
of the Legislature without comment, and the boards of 
guardians carrying them out as they chose ; ^ sometimes even 
taking it upon themselves to petition the Education Depart- 
ment to relax the requirement of schooling after twelve, as 
being hard on the parent, useless to the child, and leading to 
"much necessary work being left undone," especially "the 
eradication of pernicious weeds." ^ 

We may see further imposition of responsibility on the 
boards of guardians for the well-being of the children of the 
poor, in the series of Acts for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Children. Already in 1868 boards of guardians had been 
expressly directed by statute to institute proceedings against 
parents who neglected their children.^ In 1888 the Central 
Authority reminded the guardians of the power they had thus 
had for twenty years, without often making use of it.^ In 
1889 Parliament enacted that any person having the custody 
of a child under sixteen who " wilfully ill-treats, neglects, 
abandons, or exposes such child, or causes or procures such 
child to be ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed, in a 
manner likely to cause such child unnecessary suffering or 
injury to its health, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour," and 
that the guardians might, " out of the funds under their control, 
pay the reasonable costs and expenses of any proceedings " 
which they direct to be taken. They were not definitely re- 
quired to take such proceedings, but Parliament laid the duty 
upon them to do so. The Act of 1894 made the provisions 
more explicit, and defined injury to health so as to include 

sec. 5 (Elementary Education Act 1880). It was held in 1877 that the 
guardians might, if they chose, pay, besides the school fee, also for books and 
stationery {Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Government Board, 
vol. i. 1880, p. 49). 

1 39 & 40 Vic. c. 79, sec. 10 (Elementary Education Act 1876). 

2 Circulars of 30th December 1873 and 30th December 1876, in Third 
Annual Eeport, 1873-4, pp. 4-7, and Sixth Annual Report, 1876-7, pp. 23-6 ; 
MS. Minutes, Bakewell Board of Guardians, 12th January and 9th February 1874. 

3 Ihid. 30th August 1880. 

4 81 & 32 Vic. c. 122, sec. 37 (Poor Law Amendment Act 1868). 

» Cu-cular of 31st December 1888, in Eighteenth Annual Report, 1888-9, 
p. 105. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD iSi 

"injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of 
the body, and any mental derangement." ^ 

These statutes were applicable, among others, to the 
170,000 children on outdoor relief, many of whom were 
plainly underfed, housed in insanitary conditions, half-clothed, 
and generally treated in a manner " likely to cause injury " to 
their health ; but we do not find that the boards of guardians 
realised the great increase of power and responsibility thus 
entrusted to them. The Central Authority, which observed 
mildly that Parliament evidently meant the guardians to in- 
stitute proceedings, did not point out to them the applicability 
of the new statutes to the children on outdoor relief; and the 
boards of guardians, so far as we can ascertain, seldom or 
never acted on them. In 1904, accordingly, the power to 
pay the expenses of prosecution was transferred to county and 
borough authorities, so that the guardians ceased to be 
responsible for taking proceedings ; but the workhouse remains 
a " place of safety " to which a constable or other person 
authorised by a Justice may take a child, the guardians are 
required to provide for the reception of any child so brought 
to the workhouse, and the master is bound to admit such child 
if there is sufl&cient accommodation.^ 

After 1890 we find the responsibility of the Poor Law 
authorities for all the outdoor paupers beginning to be 
recognised by the inspectorate. " The absolute responsibility 
of the guardians for the material well-being of every one who 
is in receipt of outdoor relief,"^ said Mr. Davy in 1893, had 
been officially recognised by the District Nurses Order, to 
which we shall recur. " If any relief at all is given to an 
applicant," Mr. Davy laid it down, " it is the plain duty of the 
guardians to take 'precautions to insure that . . . the pauper is 
sufficiently fed, clothed, and lodged." * This was notoriously 
not the case in many unions, the children especially being in 
an evil plight. " In many unions," said Mr. Baldwyn Fleming, 
in 1891, "the relieving officer and the inspector of nuisances 
could show guardians cases . . . where large families are 

1 52 & 53 Vic. c. 44, sees. 1, 12 (1889) ; 57 & 58 Vic. c. 41, sec. 1 
(1894); Circular of SOth September 1889, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 
1889-90, pp. 92-5. 2 4 Edw. VII. c. 15, sec. 5. 

3 Mr. Davy's Report, in Twenty-Second Annual Report, 1892-3, p. 72. 

" Ihkl. 



i82 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

living in cottages too small for them, and the accommodation 
is in almost every respect unsatisfactory, where the children 
have little but rags to cover them by day or night, where 
school attendance is avoided to the utmost, where the 
feeding only just escapes starvation, where the physical and 
moral education of the children are equally impracticable, 
where infant life is one constant struggle with misery and 
privation."^ The demoralising association of the outdoor 
pauper children with the pay-station was specially denounced 
by another inspector. " What," he said, " is the sense, I would 
ask — I do ask in board rooms — of all this trouble and outlay 
to put the children into cottage homes or scattered homes, 
to keep them, in fact, altogether away from the workhouse, if 
while doing all this the very same authority permit the 
precisely similar children of the outdoor poor to haunt the 
pay-stations, to hang about workhouse gates, or to sit mixed 
up in waiting-rooms with adult paupers. . . . The children, 
early in life, often at times when they ought to be at school, 
have their eyes opened to the facility with which by exaggerat- 
ing your impecunious condition, 2s. 6d. or 3s. a week can be 
got without the labour of earning it. . . . The master of one 
of the board schools had written ... to complain that three 
children systematically were kept from school on a particular 
day of the week for the purpose of drawing relief due to their 
parents." ^ 

"We cannot find, however, any order, minute, or circular 
explicitly taking official cognisance of the condition of these 
children (except in respect of the statutory requirement of 
school attendance) ; nor do the boards of guardians seem to 
have taken any trouble to inquire into their condition. In 
1901 the Central Authority had reported to it, at its special 
request (in connection with the adequacy of the amount 
granted, especially for the aged), the amounts usually given 
in outdoor relief. In the majority of unions it must then 
have appeared that the amount allowed for the support of each 
child on outdoor relief was either the Is. and one loaf per 

^ Mr. Baldwyn Fleming's Report, in Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-1-, 
p. 222. 

2 Mr. Kennedy's Report, in Twenty - eighth Annual Report, 1898-9, 
pp. 168-9. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 183 

week, which had had the sanction of Mr. Corbett in 1869/ or 
frequently Is. 6d. per week. The Bradford Board of Guardians, 
however, if no other, reported that it allowed to deserving 
widows with dependent children 4s. for the first child, 3s. for 
the second, and 2s. for each additional child (besides 5s. for 
the mother herself).^ We do not find that any official view 
has been expressed as to this diversity. 

At the very end of the period we find Parliament suddenly 
insisting on the responsibility of the boards of guardians for 
the condition, not only of the children on outdoor relief, but 
of all children in so far as sufficiency of food is concerned. 
By the Act of 1906 special provision is made for children at 
school who are in need of food. This Act, embodied in a 
General Order, was communicated to boards of guardians in a 
circular which explains the exact degree of responsibility 
which, in the opinion of the Central Authority, Parliament has 
thereby imposed on them. A parent is bound to supply his 
children with necessary food, and if he is unable to do so 
should apply to the guardians for help. When a father, 
being able to supply food, neglects to do so, or being unable 
neglects to apply to the guardians, so that the child is under- 
fed, a " special application " on behalf of the child may be 
made to the guardians or relieving officer " by the managers, 
or by a teacher duly empowered by the managers, of a public 
elementary school, or by an officer duly empowered by the 
local education authority." If the food is urgently needed 
it is to be supplied at once, as a loan to the father, and he 
is to be informed as soon as possible that it has been so given. 
When there is no such urgency, the father is to be informed 
that food will be supplied before it is given, that he may 
have the opportunity of providing it himself; and the 
guardians are to inquire whether the need is due to habitual 
neglect ; if it is so, the relief shall (and in any case it may) 
be given on loan. 

Whenever relief under this order is given on loan, the 
guardians are obliged to take proceedings for its recovery, 
unless the Local Government Board specially approves of 

' Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871, as reprinted by the Central 
Authority in 1873 for ofiScial circulation. 

2 Bradford Union to Local Government Board, 26th January 1901 (MS. 
archives, Bradford Board of Guardians). 



1 84 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

their not doiug so, which approval would only be obtainable 
in very special circumstances, e.g. if it were obviously im- 
possible to recover the amount. It is held to be particularly 
important that these proceedings should always be taken, as 
they are the only means of safeguarding against abuse, for the 
rule that, as a condition of relief, the able-bodied father must 
enter the workhouse or be set to work by the guardians is 
specially abrogated in cases under this order, as being in- 
applicable to them. The order does not apply to any child 
who is blind or deaf and dumb, nor in the case of any relative 
except the father, nor if the child is not resident with the 
father. Eelief is not to be ordered on a " special application " 
for a longer period than one month. "Where a special 
application is renewed within a short time, say six months, 
after the expiration of the period for which the relief has been 
given, and further relief has to be allowed, or where within 
this period special application is made and relief is given in 
respect of some other member of the same family, and the 
cause of the application is the habitual neglect of the father to 
provide food, the Board think that the guardians should con- 
sider whether the case is one in which proceedings could be 
taken against the father, either under the Vagrancy Act 
1824, or the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act 1904." 

Finally, the Board "trust that the boards of guardians, 
particularly those of populous unions in which cases of 
under-fed children more frequently occur, will endeavour to 
co-operate with the local education authorities in dealing with 
really necessitous cases, whilst exercising due discrimination so 
as to avoid the pauperisation and consequent disfranchisement 
of parents who ought not to be brought under the Poor Law." ^ 

The number of outdoor pauper children is now slightly more 
than in 1892, there being on 1st January 1906, 179,870 
such, 96,804 being widows' children, 72,721 children with both 
parents or with fathers only, and 10,345 having no parents.^ 

Turning now to the much smaller number of children in 
Poor Law institutions, of whom there were on January 1st 
1871, 55,832^ (together with a very small number "boarded 

1 Circular of 27th April 1905, in Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, 
pp. 317-20. 

2 Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. cxxxi. 

3 Twenty-third Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1870-71, p. 374. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 185 

out"), we see a similar continuity of policy in the Central 
Authority, but in these cases it is continuity in the policy of a 
constant enlargement of responsibility, and of a steady im- 
provement in the provision.-^ 

(ii.) In Poor Law Schools 

The main preoccupation of the Central Authority since 
1871, so far as children are concerned, has been the increase, 
progressive improvement, and novel development of the Poor 
Law school entirely removed from the workhouse.^ The 
recommendations and incitements to boards of guardians to 
remove from the workhouse the healthy children of school 
age are incessant down to 1 9 0.^ Such children are ordinarily 
accommodated in Poor Law schools, either district schools, 
where these exist, or much more frequently " separated " or 
" workhouse schools," which may be of the old aggregated type, 
or " cottage homes " or " scattered homes." The dramatic 
change from the views of 1850 is the abandonment of the 
" district school." The aggregated type, held in such esteem 
previously to 1871, fell gradually into disfavour, and is now 

1 There are few statutory provisions of this period which affect the institu- 
tional treatment of children, and these few deal simply mth financial questions. 
It is worth noting, however, that they tend to improve accommodation, as 
they facilitate increased expenditure, by allowing a larger siun to be raised 
for building, fitting up, and furnishing Metropolitan District Schools (Poor Law 
Loans Act 1872, 35 Vic. c. 2, sec. 1), and by allowing the expenses of 
maintenance in a certified school to be paid up to any limit to be fixed by the 
Local Government Board ; and provide against overcrowding by allowing no 
repayment from the common poor fund in respect of children in a school in 
excess of a maximum number fixed for the school by the board. The special 
provisions for the education of defective children will be considered under the 
heading "Defectives." 

2 In his Report for 1898, the inspector of Poor Law schools for the six 
northern counties describes the changes of the preceding thirty-seven years. 
In 1871-5 there were seventy-four unions, having considerable numbers of 
children, which educated them all in schools within the workhouse walls. Four 
had distinct schools, but on the workhouse premises ; and four only had 
entirely separate schools. In 1898, only one union had workhouse schools for 
girls and two for boys ; three had distinct schools, but on the workhouse 
premises ; with half-a-dozen others with similar arrangements for part of the 
children, or for the children awaiting ti-ansfer only. Elsewhere the children 
were in entirely separate schools or cottage homes, or removed to certified 
schools ; or in scattered homes or boarded out (Mr. Mozley's Report, in 
Twenty-eighth Annual Report, 1898-9, p. 183). 

3 The last in the published documents seems to be the incidental reference 
in the Circular of 4th August 1900 as to the aged and deserving poor (Thirtieth 
Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 18). 



1 86 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC Y 

known as the "barrack school." Already in 1871 Mr. 
Corbett was criticising these schools as being far too large (as 
well as too indiscriminate in the kind of children admitted) 
to be really successful.^ After repeated outbreaks of 
malignant ophthalmia, and continued experience of the 
mental drawbacks, especially of the large girls' schools, the 
Central Authority abandoned its policy, and presently came 
to decline to sanction proposals which would have the effect 
of " extending the large schools in the Metropolis and . . . 
most readily [to] entertain any proposals for applying to 
other purposes any of these large buildings, subject to other 
provision of a suitable character being made for the children." ^ 
The barrack school system grew up out of the five Metropolitan 
school districts ; these also therefore shared in the condemna- 
tion, and in 1899 two had been dissolved.^ 

A " separate school " belonging to a single union or separate 
parish would naturally be much smaller than a district school, 
but nothing is said as to the merits or demerits of an 
aggregated school of moderate size. The method which seems 
to have won the approval of the Central Authority is that of 
" cottage homes," or the " block system," under which children 
are grouped in bodies of not more than twenty-five or thirty 
in separate houses on a common ground of considerable 
acreage, and with suitable common buildings, such as baths, 
chapels, etc., under the supervision, not only of " house- 
mothers," but also of a superintendent of the whole. Since 
1894 the Board have constantly approved the erection of 
schools on this plan ; they always require that the cottage 
homes should be entirely separated from the workhouse. The 
outstanding feature of this system is the great expense.* 

An alternative plan is that of " scattered homes," i.e. 
cottages taken here and there throughout the union, not 

1 Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871. 

2 Hansard, 1st February 1897, vol. 45, p. 904. 

3 Ibid. 2ad June 1899, vol. 72, p. 258. The process of discovery of the evils 
of these large schools may be interestingly traced in the annual reports of the 
L.G.B. Inspectors of Poor Law Schools from 1871 to 1895 ; the Report on the 
Health of Metropolitan Pauper Schools, by J. H. Bridges, 1890 ; and Report of 
the Committee on Poor Law Schools, 1896. 

* The "cottage homes" required special orders widely differing from those 
for the "barrack schools"; see, for instance, that for the Marston Green 
Cottage Homes of the Birmingham Union of 8th November 1879. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 187 

adjacent to each other, wherein the children live under the 
care of matrons or foster parents, and whence they attend 
the public elementary schools. In some cases the results 
of this system have been good, but the Central Authority 
received reports of certain cases of bad management, which 
made it cautious in regard to other proposals in that direction. 
The adoption of the system in Camberwell was sanctioned 
on the conditions that the guardians could satisfy the Central 
Authority that they could get proper houses for the scattered 
homes, and also that they could be quite sure of having an 
adequate system of inspection.^ 

Notwithstanding the great expense of these highly elabor- 
ated boarding-schools for the indoor pauper boys and girls — 
an expense reaching between £100 and £200 capital, and 
between £30 and £50 annual maintenance, for each child — 
we see the Central Authority constantly pressing for their 
multiplication. The very idea of " less eligibility " has been 
forgotten by the inspectors. To quote one of them in 1902 : 
"The number and nature of obstacles (to the removal of 
children from the workhouse) conjured up in the minds of 
many of the country guardians is," he says, " quite surprising. 
One idea, which proves a great stumbling-block, is that the 
children will be put in a position above their deserts, and 
above that of the children living in their own homes with 
their parents."^ 

On 1st January 1906, the total number of children in 
"district or separate schools" was no more than 12,393, 
whilst in "cottage and other homes" there were 14,590; 
and 11,368 were in other institutions (mostly certified in- 
dustrial schools, conducted by philanthropic committees not 
for profit).® 

1 Local Government Board to Camberwell Union. The Sheffield "Scattered 
Homes " were described in Mr. Kennedy's Report, in the Twenty-third Annual 
Report, 1893-4, p. 138. They were (as "isolated homes") regulated by 
Special Orders of 4th November 1896, 23rd February 1898, and 7th February 
1906. 

2 Mr. Hervey's Report, in Thirty-first Annual Report, 1901-2, p. 80. 

3 Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. cxxxi. The policy of placing 
children out in private venture homes run for profit (the old "farming" 
system) was not wholly given up. In 1874 the Central Authority decided 
to "withdraw from the almost nominal supervision" which it had exercised 
over the private venture seaside homes for children ; and to leave these, as 
certified schools, entirely to the super-^nsion of such boards of guardians as 



1 88 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

(iii.) The Workhouse Children 

Notwithstanding the desire of the Central Authority to 
remove the children from the workhouses, there remained 
on 1st January 1906 no fewer than 21,526 in these 
institutions.-^ The Central Authority has, for instance, never 
objected to the retention in workhouses of children of tender 
years, or of children of any age, in the interval before they can 
be sent to school. In 1889, indeed, it was especially forbidden 
to send children to separate schools under the age of three." 
Though no alteration has been made in the General Con- 
solidated Order of 1847, by which the internal economy of 
the workhouse is professedly governed, the Central Authority 
laid it down in 1895 that " in every workhouse in which 
there are several children too young to attend school, a separate 
nursery — dry, spacious, light, and well ventilated — should be 
provided, and should be suitably furnished." ^ 

The children are always to be under the supervision of 
paid officers, a recommendation made in the days of the Poor 
Law Board, but still up to 1895 frequently urged — showing 
that at any rate till then it had not been effectively insisted 
on. Even in that year the Board had to write : " In no case 
should the care of young children be entrusted to inferior or 
weak-minded inmates " — a qualification which weakens the 
force of the prohibition of the use of paupers at all. " Unless 
young children are placed under responsible supervision they 
cannot be said to be ' properly taken care of '" ; ^ and again, 

chose to make use of them, the payments being classed as non-resident relief 
(Circular of May 1874, in Local Govemnunt Chronicle, 23rd May 1874, p. 
334). Yet a Special Order of l7th September 1879 regulated the admission 
of pauper children to the Metropolitan Infirmary for Children, Margate (John 
Weekly, proprietor). Others of 29th November 1880 and 30th June 1886, 
did the same for the Do\vnlands Seaside Infirmary for Children, Rottingdean 
(J. F. Landguist, proprietor). In 1889, the North Surrey School District 
established a Convalescent Home of its own at Broadstairs (Special Orders 
of 8th February 1889 and I7th October 1891). 

^ Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. cxxx. This includes a comparatively 
small number of sick children in Poor Law infirmaries. 

2 General Order of 22nd July 1889 (as to Metropolis) ; and of 10th February 
1899 (to all unions). In 1878, indeed, the North Surrey District School 
had refused to receive children under four, and the Central Authority had 
declined to interfere (^Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Govern- 
ment Board, vol. i. 1880, p. 178). 

3 Memorandum, " Duties of Visiting Committees," June 1895, in Twenty- 
fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 122. * Ibid. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 189 

more generally, " all children in workhouses should be under the 
charge of officers, either industrial trainers or caretakers, and 
should not be left to the charge of adult paupers." ^ The 
medical officer is responsible for the children's health, and 
with a view to the prevention of disease he is expected to 
inspect them, whether they are ill or not, " frequently and 
individually." In this connection may be mentioned a 
" Memorandum relative to Ophthalmia of New-born Children," ^ 
in which the Board requested medical officers to give each 
nurse or midwife acting under their directions such written 
instructions as they might deem necessary in order to give 
effect to the recommendations of the Eoyal Commission on the 
subject. In 1882 the Central Authority refused to sanction 
any women's committee;^ but by 1897 the guardians were 
urged to appoint women's committees for the supervision of 
the women and children in the workhouse. 

It is interesting to trace the growth of opinion with regard 
to the provision for the children of means of enjoyment. For 
half a century after 1834 the Central Authority allowed no 
toys whatever for all its tens of thousands of indoor children 
of ail ages. An auditor in 1883 disallowed sums spent on 
toys for sick children, and Mr. Hibbert was questioned in 
Parliament. He said " there have been similar disallowances 
previously, and the Local Government Board, while relieving 
the persons surcharged of their liability, have held that 
expenditure of this character should be defrayed by private 
liberality, rather than out of rates compulsorily levied." The 
disallowances had therefore hitherto been confirmed, the 
payments being thus decided to be actually illegal. " The 
subject," continued Mr. Hibbert, "had been considered in 
connection with the recent surcharge, and it is proposed to 
hold that the expenditure was within the legal powers of the 
guardians, and the auditor will be communicated with, with 
a view to a reversal of his decision." "* It is not clear which 

1 Circular Letter, 29th January 1895, in Twenty - fifth Annual Report, 
1895-6, p. 110. 

2 June 1897, in Twenty-seventh Annual Report, 1897-8, p. 24. 

3 Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Government Board, vol. ii. 
1883, p. 258. 

* Hid. vol. iii. 1888, p. 55; Hansard, 13th March 1883, vol. 277, p. 
365. , 



I90 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of these conflicting decisions of the Central Authority was in 
accordance with law. 

In 1891 the Board wrote : " The supply of illustrated 
books and periodicals of children is especially desirable. 
Admirable publications of this class can now be obtained at 
a very small cost, and where it appears to be necessary an 
expenditure by the guardians for this purpose should, in the 
Board's opinion, be urged upon them. The question of the 
provision of bats, balls, skipping-ropes, etc., for the children 
and toys for the infants, is also one which the Board are 
desirous should receive the attention of the inspectors on the 
occasion of their inspections of the workhouses." ^ 

"Special care should be taken that a sufficient part of 
each day is set apart for recreation only, and that the children 
should be allowed to take exercise frequently outside the 
workhouse premises, and that they should be encouraged in 
healthy games of all sorts." ^ The guardians were allowed to 
take girls from the Forest Gate Schools to see the sights of 
London, provided the places visited were approved by the 
school inspector,^ and also to pay a donation to the funds of 
a Band of Hope, when the Poor Law children were allowed to 
share in the work of the society.'* 

In recent years, we see the inspectorate urging that even 
children of tender years ought not to live in the workhouse. 
This is a new idea which has not yet received more formal 
endorsement. As children under three may not, by the 
Central Authority's own order of 10th February 1899, be 
sent to a separate Poor Law school, there is as yet no place for 
them but the workhouse. " Nothing has been said," observed 
Mr. Jenner Fust, in 1901, "about the nursery children, at 
present retained at the workhouse till three years old, or even 
more, though the case of these requires attention as much as 
that of the older ones. They are almost always largely under 
the care of inmates, and the conditions are seldom improved 
even when these inmates are their own mothers ... I 

1 Circular, "Supply of Books, Newspapers, etc.," 23rd January 1891, iu 
Report of Royal Commission on the Aged Poor, 1895, vol. iii. No. 0.7684, ii. 
p. 967 ; Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-1, p. xc. 

2 Circular Letter of 29th January 1895, on "Workhouse Administration,'' 
in Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 110. 

3 Local Government Chronicle, 18th August 1900, p. 841. 
« lUd. 14th June 1902, p. 614. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 191 

cannot but think that nursery homes with trained nurses as 
foster-mothers should form part of the equipment of all 
cottage homes, or, if a separate receiving home be established, 
the nursery children might conveniently be placed there, the 
removal from the workhouse not being delayed beyond the 
period when a child is able to walk." ^ 

With regard to the education of the older workhouse 
children the Central Authority has changed its policy. It 
does not actually forbid the guardians to arrange for a school 
within the workhouse, which was the policy of 1850, But 
the plan now favoured is to send them out to the public 
elementary schools, as is also done when they are placed ^ 
in scattered homes. At first the Central Authority only 
sanctioned this course with reluctance, only when the number 
of such children was small, and with special recommendations 
as to the appointment of officers to supervise the children out 
of school hours and impart industrial training.^ In the case 
of one union, they " urged the guardians to reconsider the 
question, with a view to the appointment either of a caretaker 
of the children or a porter, who could give that attention to 
the boys when in the workhouse which was of such import- 
ance to their future welfare." ^ Later, perhaps, when the 
principle of paid " caretakers " had become more fully accepted, 
the Central Authority gave the system much more hearty 
support, noted its prevalence with satisfaction, and considered 
it highly desirable that children in Poor Law establishments 
should thus be given opportunities of mixing with other 
children. 

When there is a choice of elementary schools, each child 
should be sent to the one conducted according to its own 
religious creed, and it was also recommended that the children 
should be sent out to Sunday schools of their own denomina- 
tion. This denomination is ordinarily that of the child's 
parents, but if the religion is not known, he is to be brought 
up in the Church of England : ^ if the father changes his creed, 
that of the child changes also.^ 

1 Mr. Jenner Fust's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 147. 

2 Local Qovernmemi, Chronicle, 22nd June 1878, p. 489. 

3 Hansard, 6th September 1886, vol. 308, p. 1316. 

* Local Government Clironicle, 2nd July 1904, p. 707. 
6 Ibid. 8th November 1902, p. 1126. 



192 ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 

While in the workhouse the children are to receive 
instruction in industrial and manual work, but the Board 
strongly resisted proposals for sending them out to work in 
factories.^ 

Subject to these conditions, the 21,526 children living in 
the workhouse remain there to the knowledge and with the 
sanction of the Central Authority — at least, this is what the 
guardians contend, and, so far as we can discover, there is no 
order, circular, or minute to the contrary.^ 

Meanwhile the guardians are pressed to bestow on them 
an amount of salaried care and expensive attention that 
surprises the more old-fashioned among them, who have not 
yet quite abandoned the principle of " less eligibility." " One 
matter of some interest," says Mr. Baldwyn Fleming in 1902, 
"is the curious reluctance displayed by country guardians to 
have the children's teeth cared for. The argument used is, 
" The ratepayers do not take their children to the dentist, and 
why should we do so ? " (in the case of the indoor Poor Law 
children.) ^ 

1 Hansard, 21st June 1888, vol. 327, pp. 809-10 ; Selections from the 
Correspondence of the Local Govermrient Board, vol ii. 1883, p. 139. 

2 We ought perhaps to add that the Central Authority is found putting 
pressure on boards of guardians wlio refuse to make any adequate provision for 
their children. In 1898 it is reported that, because the Darlington Board of 
Guardians refused to make such provision, the Central Authority had refused to 
sanction any alteration of the workhouse whatsoever until such provision had 
been made {Local Government Chronicle, 19th February 1898, p. 175). 

The 21,526 workhouse children appear to be made up of: {a) infants under 
three ; (6) children between three and fourteen, scattered in groups of a dozen 
to as many as seventy in the workhouses of the unions having no separate 
schools of their own (in the York Workhouse there are usually about seventy 
children) ; and (c) children temporarily in the workhouse on their way to separate 
schools, boarding-out, being apprenticed, etc. In another classification they are : 
(a) the newly -born infants of the women in the lying-in ward ; (6) children 
between three and fourteen, who are orphans or deserted ; (c) children of indoor 
paupers, who are either (i.) permanent residents ; or (ii.) "ins-and-outs." We 
cannot find any expression of policy of the Central Authority with regard to any 
of these classes. In the Metropolis, it should be said, provision has been made 
for the relegation to special institutions of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, not 
only of children suffering from ophthalmia, etc. , but also of children temporarily 
remitted to the care of the guardians by the police ("remand children "), who 
had heretofore been sent to the workhouses (Circulars of 19th January and 
5th April 1897, and General Order of 2nd April 1897, Twenty -seventh 
Annual Report, 1897-8, pp. 8-9). We do not gather that any corresponding 
provision has been made for such children outside the Metropolis. 

2 Mr. Baldwyn Fleming's Report in the Thirty-first Annual Report, 1901-2, 
p. 91. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 193 

(iv.) The, Education of the Indoor Pauper Child 

Down to 1897 the Central Authority had contemplated 
and recognised in its orders and circulars that the pauper 
children would spend only about half the school time in 
ordinary school subjects, the other half being devoted to 
what was euphemistically called " industrial training." ^ This 
meant, in practice, the employment of the children in domestic 
work, gardening, mending clothes or boots, and so on, the 
persons selected as " industrial trainers " not being required 
to have any pedagogic qualifications or power to teach, and 
being paid in fact only at workmen's rates. In 1897, the 
rapid abandonment of the half-time system outside the 
workhouse led to a great advance. By the Order of that 
year,^ which governs all Poor Law schools, whether they are 
in workhouses or district or separate schools, the half-time 
system is greatly discouraged. Industrial training takes a 
subordinate place. The Order fixes the number of hours 
during which the children are to be under school instruction, 
and provides for a ten minutes' rest in every attendance of 
two hours or more, limits the number of hours which may 
be occupied in manual or industrial work, and provides for 
one whole holiday or two half-holidays in each week, in 
addition to allowing six weeks' holidays in the year if the 
guardians choose to grant it. One object of the Order 
was to secure that children should not be unduly pressed 
with manual or industrial work in addition to the school 
instruction. The religious teaching required by any Orders 
in force is to be given in addition to the school hours. In 
1877 it had been ordered that any time which might be 
devoted to drill or industrial training, other than a reason- 

1 There was not much pretence of technical instruction in the earlier Orders. 
What was aimed at was putting the children to work, chosen for its utility, 
not for its instructiveness {i.e. digging rather than gardening, mending the 
shoes of the establishment rather than learning the art of shoemaking). In 
the Special Order to the Walsall and West Bromwich School District of 1st 
July 1871, it was laid down that the children might be employed (under certain 
circumstances, wholly employed) "upon works of industry." In an amending 
Special Order of 20th July 1893, the age was raised, but the phrase was 
retained. 

2 Order of 30th January 1897 in Twenty-seventh Annual Report, 1897-8, 
pp. 5-8 ; sec for its effect Thirty-third Annual Report, 1903-4, p. 256. 





194 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

able time for needlework, in the case of girls, should not 
be included in the time prescribed for attendance.^ The 
present Order, in more general terms, allows school instruction 
to include " any of the subjects for which grants may be 
made under the Code of Eegulations of the Education 
Department, for the time being in force, except cookery, 
laundry work, dairy work, or cottage gardening." Of the 
time allowed for needlework, not more than one-third is 
to be spent in mending ; the rest is to be occupied in plain 
needlework, knitting, and cutting out and making garments. 
When children attend school for half-time, it is preferred 
that they shall receive the school instruction in the morning, 
and the industrial training in the afternoon.^ There is now 
no superior limit to the education that may be provided 
for a pauper child within the proper ages. As early as 
1878 payment for the attendance of the workhouse girls 
at a school of cookery was held to be legal. Guardians are 
allowed to pay the fees for the instruction of the children 
at a technical institute when they see fit to do so,^ quite 
irrespective of whether or not the children of the poorest 
independent labourer can get such advantages. 

It may be noted that a Special Order of 30th April 
1887 (not mentioned in the Annual Eeports, or otherwise 
communicated to boards of guardians) enables the Forest 
Gate District School to allow a class of the elder girls to 
go out and buy their food, spending not more than 3 s. 6d. 
a week each, and prepare it for their own consumption, 
so as to get some practical experience of ordinary life. By 
another Order of 5th August 1889, the children in this 
one school are allowed to buy their own outfits (up to £3 
10s.). We do not find that the Central Authority has yet 
made these privileges general, nor extended them to any 
other indoor pauper children.* 

1 General Order " iDrescribing attendance" as regards workhouse schools, 
30th October 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 204. 

2 Circular Letter, 1st February 1897, in Twenty-seventh Annual Eeport, 
1897-8, p. 5. 

3 Selections from the OorrespondeTice of the Local Government Board, vol. i. 
1880, p. 224 ; Local Government Chronicle, 30th January 1904, p. 113. 

* By a General Older of 20th May 1881, corporal punishment is absolutely 
forbidden in Poor Law Schools as regards "any female child" of any age. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 195 

On 1st April 1904, the responsibility for the inspection 
of the education of the Poor Law Schools, and of pauper 
children in certified schools, was transferred to the Board 
of Education, thus reverting to the policy prior to 1863.^ 

(v.) Boarding-out 

The boarding-out system was in 1871 still on its trial, 
having been authorised for scarcely a year, and the Central 
Authority was very guarded in expressing any opinion on 
its merits ; it gradually won favour, but while mildly 
encouraging it the Central Authority would do nothing to 
force its growth. In 1900 it was referred to as one method 
of removing children from the workhouse,^ but it was never 
thought likely to become a practical means for dealing with 
the mass of pauper children, as a substitute either for 
ordinary outdoor relief or for Poor Law schools.^ 

Boarding-out beyond the union had been first regulated 
by the Order of 25th November 1870. In 1877 it was 
found that boarding-out within the union was being largely 
practised, it being, as the Central Authority had itself held, 
legally only ordinary out-relief, requiring no sanction. This 
also was then regulated by a General Order.* Both these 
Orders were re-issued with slight modifications in 1889, the 
former to every union in the country, the latter to all 
but the most populous town unions. Again, in 1905, the 
Order for boarding-out beyond the union was slightly altered 
and re-issued.'' 

The operation of these Orders was limited to certain 
classes of children ; in 1877 to those deserted by their 
parents, or whose parents were dead, undergoing penal servi- 
tude, suffering from mental disease, or out of England ; by 
the Orders of 1889 children whose parents were permanently 
bedridden or disabled were added to the list ; and in 1905 

This rule has not yet been made by the Board of Education for the schools 
attended by non-paupers nor by most local education authorities. 

1 Thirty-third Annual Report, 1903-4, p. 256. 

2 Circular Letter of 4th August 1900, on Aged Deserving Poor, in Thii'tieth 
Annual Report, 1900-1901, p. 18. 

3 Hansard, 8th May 1894, vol. 24, p. 598. 

* 10th September 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, pp. 193-200. 
■fi Macmorranand Lushington's Poor iai<;Orc^(^rs, second edition, 1905, p. 1331, 



196 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

children adopted by the guardians were formally included, 
as such children could previously only be boarded out if 
they were also orphan or deserted according to the definition. 
The Central Authority refused its sanction to a proposal to 
board out the illegitimate children of able-bodied women 
in the workhouse.-^ It was twice decided that when out- 
relief is given to a child living with a person not legally 
liable for its support, such child must be considered as 
boarded out.^ There is no age limit for boardino-out within 
the union, but a child may not be first boarded out beyond 
the union under two, nor when over ten, unless in the same 
home with a brother or sister under that age. 

In view of this gradual adoption of the boarding-out 
system as a permanent form of the treatment of children 
under the Poor Law, it is instructive to compare the 
requirements which the Central Authority makes to ensure 
the proper maintenance of the boarded-out children with 
the policy just described in respect of the children on 
ordinary outdoor relief. 

The various Orders all lay practically the same duties on 
the foster-parent. He is to sign an undertaking that : " He 
will bring up the child as one of his own children, and 
provide the child with proper food, lodging and washing, and 
endeavour to train the child in habits of truthfulness, 
obedience, personal cleanliness and industry, as well as in 
suitable domestic and outdoor work, so far as may be 
consistent with the law ; that he will take care that the 
child shall attend duly at church or chapel according to 
the religious creed to which the child belongs, and shall 
attend school according to the provisions of the law for 
the time being ; that he will provide for the proper repair 
and renewal of the child's clothing, and that in case of the 
child's illness he will forthwith report such illness to the 
guardians and to the boarding-out committee ; and that he 
will at all times permit the child to be visited and the house 
to be inspected by any member of the boarding-out committee, 

* Local Government Chronicle, 16th August 1902, p. 825. 

2 Ibid. 27tli April 1889, p. 338 ; Hansard, 2nd July 1897, vol. 50, p. 966 ; 
Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Govermnent Board, vol. ii. 1883, 
p. 94. On the other hand, a contrary decision seems to have been given in 188& 
{ibid. vol. iii. 1888, p. 187). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 197 

and by any person specially appointed for that purpose by 
the guardians or by the Local Government Board. The 
undertaking shall also contain an engagement on the part 
of the foster-parent that he will, upon the demand of a 
person duly authorised in writing by the boarding-out 
committee, or by the guardians, give up possession of the 
child." ^ The 1905 undertaking is slightly different in terms, 
the chief variation being an omission of the reference to 
" domestic and outdoor work," because cases had occurred 
in which these words had been pleaded as an excuse for 
overtaxing the working capacity of the children." 

Foster-parents may never be persons in receipt of relief, 
or whose only means of support is the allowance made for the 
children. Children should not, except in special cases, be 
boarded with relations, nor in any home where the father is 
employed in night work ; foster-parents employed in outdoor 
work are preferred to those occupied in sedentary labour.^ 
They should also (both, in the case of married couples) be of 
the same religious creed as the child,^ live within two miles 
from the school where the child is to attend, and within five 
miles — preferably three — from the house of some member of 
the committee. Attention is to be paid to decent accommoda- 
tion in the homes, and to the separation of the sexes in the 
sleeping-rooms. Children over seven are not allowed to sleep 
in the same room with married couples. No child is to be 
boarded out in a house where sleeping accommodation is 
afforded to an adult lodger.^ 

The number of children to be placed in any one home was at 
first limited to two — or four, if all were brothers and sisters, — 
but it was soon found that further restrictions were necessary 
for the prevention of overcrowding. Accordingly, it is ruled 
that not more than one child may be placed in a home where a 
child is boarded by any other agency and none where there is 

1 Boarding out without the Uuion Order, 1889, in Nineteenth Annual 
Report, 1889-90, p. 49. The "within the Union Order" contains some 
modifications for the case where there is no committee. 

2 Circular Letter, 9th December 1905, in Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 
1905-6, p. 328. 

^ Memorandum of the Local Government Board, June 1900. See Local 
Government Law and Legislation, by W. H. Dumsday, 1900, p. 126. 

* Local Government Chronicle, 31st October 1903, p. 1070. 

^ Memorandum of the Local Government Board, June 1900, Local Govern- 
ment Law aiid Legislation, by W. H. Dumsday, 1900, p. 126. 



198 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

more than one such child; no child is to be boarded in a 
home where, with him, there would be more than five children 
resident. The clothing provided for a boarded-out child is 
to be of a good, ordinary character, with no suggestion of a 
workhouse uniform. The highly expensive but most advan- 
tageous service of dentistry may be paid for by the guardians. 
The Central Authority strongly disapproved of a proposal made 
to it, under which a child was to be sent out to work, and earn 
wages, while the full allowance was still being paid by the 
guardians. "If a boarded-out child is eligible under the 
Education and Factory Acts for employment, the boarding-out 
committee should report the case to the guardians, who should 
obtain the consent of the Local Government Board to any 
proposal to relieve the child whilst in receipt of regular wages. 
A foster-parent should not be permitted to allow a child to 
go to work for wages unless the guardians, with the assent 
of the Board, have previously assented thereto." ^ 

Prior to 1877 the Central Authority held that children 
boarded out within the union, being merely cases of outdoor 
relief, did not require these precautions. From 1877 onward 
similar precautions were required in their cases. Such 
children became thus differentiated from other children on out- 
door relief, on whose behalf no such requirements are insisted 
on. For the boarded-out children a payment was approved 
of 4s. a week each (afterwards raised to 5s.), a sum to be 
contrasted with the Is. or Is. 6d. for each child which is the 
usual sum allowed for each child on ordinary outdoor relief.^ 

' Local Government Chronicle, 12th March 1904, p. 290. 

2 The rate of Is. and one loaf for the support per week of each child on out- 
door relief was deliberately sanctioned, in 1869, by a Conference of Metropolitan 
Guardians, presided over by Mr. Corbett (Mr. Corbett's Eeport of 10th August 
1871, as reprinted for official circulation in 1873 by the Central Authority). 
The dividing line between children merely on this outdoor relief, and those 
"boarded out" at 4s. or 5s. per week, it must be remembered, is not kinship, 
but whether or not the person with whom the child lives is legally liable for its 
maintenance. Thus, the policy of the Central Authority has been that children 
living with a stepfather and stepmother, with a widower stepfather, with a 
widowed stepmother, or even ■with a brother, a sister, an uncle, or an aunt (none 
of whom is legally liable for their maintenance) require all this elaborate 
supervision and protection ; whereas if the children live with their own mother 
and father, with their widowed mother, with their widower father, with any or 
all of their grandparents, or exposed to the tender mercies of a father and step- 
mother, no such supeiwision and protection is insisted on. But although this 
is the rule, we are informed that the Central Authority, in practice, now makes 
no difficulty, if applied to, in sanctioning the transfer of children living with 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 199 

In equally marked contrast with its attitude with regard 
to the other children on outdoor relief, the Central Authority 
has been vigilant to secure for the boarded-out children 
systematic inspection. Mr. Chaplin said in Parliament : " I 
approve of, and warmly sympathise with boarding-out, subject 
to one condition, which is of surpassing importance, namely, 
that the inspection of the children boarded out shall be 
adequate and effective. I cannot conceive a position of greater 
misery and hardship than that of some poor unfortunate Kttle 
child boarded out to some one who takes care of it, not for 
love of the child, but simply for the purpose of making a gain 
and a profit out of it. . . . So far as it is possible to promote 
that adequate inspection . . . and wherever it is possible to 
board out on these conditions, the Board gives its assistance." ^ 

The children boarded within the union are to be visited 
by the medical officer quarterly, whether or not they are 
reported ill, and by the relieving officer — who pays the foster- 
parents at their residence, — ordinarily weekly, and may also 
be visited by the guardians or any other person appointed for 
the purpose by the guardians or the Local Government Board. 
If there is a boarding-out committee (which is permissive 
under the 1889 Boarding-out in Unions Order) a member 
thereof must visit every six weeks ; the inspection by the 
medical officer may then be dispensed with, and the system 
becomes more nearly like that for boarding outside the union. 
Under the latter, the responsibility is thrown on the committee, 
and unless they fail the guardians are not allowed themselves 
to inspect. The Local Government Board also sends an 
inspector from time to time, with the object of discovering 
how the committees do their work, for it is on the efficiency of 
the committees that the whole system of boarding-out depends.^ 

When the children are thus thoroughly supervised by the 
committees, and the committees are kept up to their work 
by the general inspectors, the Board do not favour any 

gi'andparents, uncles and aunts, or brothers and sisters, from the category of 
ordinary outdoor relief to the more regulated and more richly endowed 
category of boarding-out. It still objects in the case of parents {Selections 
from the Correspondence of the Local Government Board, vol. iii. 1888, p. 187 ; 
Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905, p. 78). 

1 Hansard, 8th August 1898, vol. 54, p. 576. 

2 Circular Letter, 29th May 1889, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1889-90, 
pp. 36-41. 



200 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

further inspection by the guardians, " One of the main 
objects of the boarding -out system is that pauper children 
should become merged in the general population ; but if 
a child boarded out is to be examined regularly by a 
medical man, supervised by a committee of the guardians, and 
inspected by a Government inspector, it would appear to imply 
that no confidence whatever is to be placed in the boarding- 
out committees under whom the children are placed, although 
for any success attending the boarding-out system it is on these 
committees that we must rely." ^ Besides, " where children 
are boarded out by guardians at a long distance from their 
own union or parish, it may often be inconvenient, except in 
the case of many children being placed in the same neighbour- 
hood, for the guardians to arrange for the visitation of the 
children by their own ofiicer as frequently as the Board deem 
indispensable, when inspection by members of the committee 
has ceased. It follows, therefore, that if the voluntary 
boarding-out committees should allow their vigilance or their 
interest to flag, the guardians will, in all probability, seldom 
have any alternative but to take back the children." ^ 

The boarded-out children, thus elaborately inspected and 
expensively provided for, had, by 1st January 1906, slowly 
risen to 8,781;^ but they were even then only one-seventh 
of those in institutions, and only one-twentieth of those on 
ordinary outdoor relief. 

(vi.) A'p'prenticcslivp 

We may note a tendency to enlarge the responsibilities, 
powers and duties of the guardians for successfully launching 
the children in the world — an enlargement which plainly 
loses sight altogether of the principle of " less eligibility." 
We see the Central Authority making elaborate suggestions 
for the care of children apprenticed or in service, and issuing 
an Order enabling the guardians to provide outfits when 
children were sent out, witliout previously asking for sanction, 

1 Mr. Ritchie, President of the Local Government Board, Hansard, 4th July 
1887, vol. 316, pp. 1598-9. 

2 Circular Letter, 29th May 1884, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1889-90, 
p. 44. 

3 Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. cxxxii. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 201 

which had before been necessary under some of the Orders. 
When the Central Authority had been asked for such sanction 
it had taken the opportunity of objecting to a child being sent 
to service without money wages, or to an inn or public-house 
(unless in exceptional circumstances), or to any place where the 
conditions of service seemed unsatisfactory, and of requiring 
to be satisfied that the child was qualified for employment as 
required by the Education Acts. By allowing guardians to 
obtain outfits without obtaining express sanction the Central 
Authority relinquished this opportunity of control over the 
conditions of service. It therefore referred to these points in 
the Circular on the Order, and expressed its confidence that 
the guardians would see that all was satisfactory in these 
respects.-^ It did not approve of the Poor Law children being 
engaged as servants to officers of Poor Law establishments — 
situations which, like those in public-houses, etc., were left to 
be filled by the less carefully protected children of independent 
parents or those on outdoor relief — considering it desirable 
that the children should be severed from all connection with 
pauper surroundings as soon as possible after attaining an age 
at which they can secure employment.^ 

When children are first apprenticed they receive very low 
wages or more often none at all, and there is frequently a 
difficulty in providing for their maintenance. We have 
already referred to the doubt of the Central Authority as to 
how to treat the experiment of the Norwich Guardians on this 
point. Though these Guardians kept their homes this doubt 
apparently continued. The Keighley Guardians wished to use 
one of their cottage homes as a residence for working boys from 
the workhouse, but the Central Authority refused its assent, 
stating that it had no power to render such a course legal. 
Nevertheless it allowed a lad who received no wages, but was 
entirely engaged in learning his trade, to reside in the work- 
house during the term of his apprenticesliip,^ and to children 
earning low wages insufficient to support them outdoor relief 
may be given. " In such cases the Board have required to be 
furnished with an assurance that the guardians had satisfied 

1 Circular on " Outfits for Children sent to Service," 14tli July 1897, in 
Twenty-seventh Annual Report, 1897-8, p. 26. 

2 Local Government Chronicle, 18th October 1902, p. 1051. 

3 Ibid. 31st October 1903, p. 1070 



202 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

themselves that the amount allowed by them would, with the 
weekly wages paid by the master, be adequate to provide for 
the maintenance and clothing of the apprentice, either alone 
or in association with other boys. They also required a 
statement of the weekly wages ordinarily paid in the locality 
to apprentices in the particular trade, and to be informed (a) 
of the amount of weekly relief the guardians proposed to 
grant; (6) the period during which such relief should 
continue ; and (c) whether, as the apprentice's wages increased, 
the relief would be correspondingly reduced." ^ 

In 1904 the Central Authority was prepared to acquiesce, 
subject to the details of the scheme proving satisfactory, in a 
proposal to establish a home for boys over whom the guardians 
had acquired parental rights, the boys receiving board and 
lodging therein for so long in each case, as the wages were 
insufficient to enable them to obtain suitable accommodation 
elsewhere.^ 

The Central Authority had, in 1873, been doubtful how far 
a relieving officer should interfere if he found, when visiting a 
servant or apprentice, that the master or mistress, instead of 
paying the stipulated wages, gave clothing, which might be old, 
useless, or valued at an exorbitant rate. It merely told the 
guardians that he should make a special inquiry, and report 
if the practice appeared to be actually injurious to the personal 
condition of the child, so as to amount to " cruel or illegal 
treatment in any respect." ° 

Apprenticeship to the sea service* had, previously to 1894, 
been left outside the scope of the orders regulating other 
apprenticeships, being subject to special provisions under the 
Merchant Shipping Acts, and also regulated by the Board of 
Trade. That Board made some alterations in the form of 
indenture in 1895, and the Local Government Board issued 
a circular to guardians calling attention to the changes. The 
master was required to pay to the superintendent any balance 
of spending money, share of salvage and other perquisites 
due to an apprentice after his daily or weekly allowance had 

^ Local Government Chronicle, 31st January 1903, p. 102. 

2 Ibid. 15th October 1904, p. 1072 ; Decisions of the Local Government Board, 
1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905, p. 118. 

3 Circular Letter of 31st May 1873, in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. 3-4. 
* See ante, p. 17. 



THE LOCAL GO VERNMENT BOARD 203 

been paid, and the superintendent was to apply such sums for 
the boy's benefit in the expenses of holidays, payment of fines, 
or other ways. This provision was considered by the Local 
Government Board to be of great importance, as it would 
" enable the magistrates in many cases to punish a boy for 
breaches of discipline, without committing him to prison." 
The new form of indenture also required the master to allow 
each apprentice a reasonable holiday in every year. 

The same circular referred to recommendations made by 
Mr. Davy and Mr. Berrington, in a Eeport on the Fishing 
Apprenticeship System, as to the desirability of continued 
supervision by the guardians after the boys were apprenticed, 
and of arranging for reports to be made to the guardians in 
cases of absconding or other grave oifence on the part of the 
boys, and also as to the expediency of giving future apprentices 
some preliminary instruction in cooking.^ 

So far as we can make out from the published documents, 
the use of the power of apprenticeship is — in the view of 
the guardians and the Central Authority alike — practically 
limited to the children maintained in Poor Law institutions 
(indoor paupers), numbering 50,669 on 1st January 1906, 
together with those outdoor pauper children who are either 
"boarded out" (in the technical sense), numbering 8,781, or 
maintained in certified schools, etc., numbering 9,364, making 
an aggregate total of 68,814 children to whom the Central 
Authority's policy of apprenticeship is assumed to be appli- 
cable.^ We do not find any suggestion that any similar policy 
is applicable to the other 166,258 children on outdoor relief,^ 
about the starting in life of whom we can find no documents. 



o 



(vii.) Adoption 

From 1871 to 1889 the powers and responsibilities of 
Poor Law authorities with regard to children whose parents 
claimed the control of them were, as against the parents, 
extremely limited. The Central Authority clung to the 
principle of parental authority. In 1887, Mr. Kitchie said: 

1 Circular of 2nd March 1895, in Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 118. 

2 Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, pp. cxxx, cxxxi. 

^ Omitting children receiving medical relief only ; and the casuals and 
insane (ihid. p. cxxxi). 



204 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

" No doubt there are some instances in which the interests 
of children are prejudiced b}'' their parents claiming them 
from the guardians, but I should not be prepared to propose 
legislation which would enable a board of guardians to 
withhold a child from its parent when claimed by him." ^ 

Two years later Parliament over-rode this contention of 
official irresponsibility, and passed the first of a series of Acts 
under which guardians might themselves assume parental 
responsibilities and unsuitable parents might be deprived of 
the custody of their children ; and the gup.rdians of the poor 
might become in loco parentis, even up to eighteen years of 
age. By the Act of 1889, "where a child is maintained by 
the guardians of any union and was deserted by its parent," 
or if the " parent is imprisoned under a sentence of penal 
servitude or imprisonment in respect of an offence committed 
against a child," " the guardians may at any time resolve 
that such child shall be under the control of the guardians 
until it reaches the age, if a boy, of sixteen, and, if a girl, of 
eighteen years " ; such a resolution of the guardians is not 
irrevocable ; they may rescind it, or, without rescinding it, 
" permit such child to be either permanently or temporarily 
under the control of such parent, or of any other relative or of 
any friend." If the parent is aggrieved by the resolution, he 
may appeal to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, and the Court, 
if satisfied "that the child has not been maintained by the 
guardians, or was not deserted by such parent, or that it is for 
the benefit of the child that it should be either permanently or 
temporarily under the control of such parent, or that the 
resolution of the guardians should be determined, may make an 
Order accordingly, and any such Order shall be complied with 
by the guardians, and if the Order determines the resolution, the 
resolution shall be thereby determined." The " powers and 
rights " of a parent which the guardians may assume are 
subject to one limitation, in that no resolution can authorise 
them to have the child educated in any religious creed other 

1 Hansard, 28tli May 1887, vol. 315, p. 857. The policy of the Central 
Authority was apparently against allowing the guardians to assume parental 
responsibilities. In 1889 Mr. Ritchie had prepared a Bill " to provide that, 
on application to the justices, an Order might be made detaining a child 
already under the care of the guardians or boarded out" (Local Governmeni 
Chronicle, 23rd March 1889, p. 238), but not extending the duties or responsi- 
bilities of the guardians. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 205 

than that in which the child would otherwise have been 
educated, i.e. that of its parents.-^ 

The Central Authority duly commended the Act among 
other legislation of the session to the notice of the boards of 
guardians in an official circular.^ 

Such was the original form of this law ; but the experiences 
of the Central Authority and the guardians as to its working 
led them to get passed successive measures developing its 
details in various respects. The Court's power of determining 
the resolution of the guardians was limited by the Act of 1890, 
which provides that : " where a parent has (a) abandoned or 
deserted his child ; or (&) allowed his child to be brought up 
by another person at that person's expense, or by the guardians 
of a Poor Law union, for such a length of time and under such 
circumstances as to satisfy the Court that the parent was 
unmindful of his parental duties, the Court shall not make 
an order for the delivery of the child to the parent unless 
the parent has satisfied the Court that, having regard to the 
welfare of the child, he is a fit person to have the custody of 
the child." Under this law, therefore, not only the Poor Law 
guardians, but any other person who has brought up the child 
at his own expense may acquire the right of custody in the 
place of the parent. This Act is not to " affect the power of 
the Court to consult the wishes of the child ... or diminish 
the right which any child now possesses to the exercise of its 
own free choice." The Court was also given the power to 
make such order as it may think fit, " to secure that the child 
be brought up in the religion in which the parent has a legal 
right to require that the child should be brought up." ^ 

The class of children to which the law applies was, at the 
instance of the Central Authority, considerably enlarged in 
1899, and it is worth considering how extensive it now is. 
" Where a child is maintained by the guardians of a Poor Law 
union, and : (i.) the child has been deserted by its parent ; or 
(ii.) the guardians are of opinion that by reason of mental 
deficiency, or of vicious habits, or mode of life, a parent of 
the child is unfit to have the control of it ; or (iii.) a parent is 

1 Poor Law Act 1889, 52 & 53 Vic. c. 56. sec. 1. 

2 Circular of 28th September 1899, in Twenty- ninth Annual Report 
1889-1900, p. 48. 

3 Custody of Children Act, 54 Vic. c. 3, sees, 3, 4. 



2o6 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

unable to perform his or her parental duties by reason of being 
under sentence of penal servitude or of being detained under 
the Inebriates Act 1898; or (iv.) a parent of the child has been 
sentenced to imprisonment in respect of any offence against 
any of his or her children ; or (v.) a parent of the child is 
permanently bedridden or disabled, and is the inmate of 
a workhouse, and consents to the resolution hereinafter 
mentioned ; or (vi.) both the parents (or in the case of an 
illegitimate child, the mother of the child) are (or is) dead ; 
the guardians may, at any time, resolve that until the child 
reaches the age of eighteen years, all the rights and powers of 
such parent as aforesaid, or, if both parents are dead, of the 
parents, in respect of the child shall, subject as in this Act 
mentioned, vest in the guardians." Penalties were also enacted 
against any person who shall knowingly assist or induce any 
child adopted by the guardians to leave their control. If any 
child maintained by the guardians is, with their consent, 
adopted by some other person, their responsibility for the child 
does not at once cease, for they are required, during three 
years after the date of the adoption, to cause the child to be 
visited at least twice a year, by some person appointed by 
them for the purpose ; and they have the power, if they 
see fit, to revoke their consent to the adoption, and reassume 
custody of the child.^ 

Some boards of guardians — often on the suggestion of the 
inspectorate — promptly made use of their new powers. On 
1st June 1902, the number of children already adopted up to 
that date was no fewer than 7724, of whom 1503 were then 
over fifteen.^ It is to be noted that, though the powers are 
applicable to all pauper children, the Central Authority has not 
suggested their use except in respect of the children in Poor 
Law institutions (including, however, the " ins and outs "),^ 
together with those technically " boarded out," or in certified 
schools ; and we do not find that they have ever been made 
use of for any of the children maintained by the guardians 
on outdoor relief, however disastrous is their upbringing. 

> Poor Law Act, 1899, 62 & 63 Vic. c. 37, sees. 1-3. 

2 Thii'ty- second Annual Report, 1902-3, pp. Ixii-lxiii. 

3 Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905 
p. 45. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 207 

E. — The Sick 

We broke off the description of the policy of the Central 
Authority with regard to the sick with the suggestive quotation 
from the Annual Eeport of the Poor Law Board in 1870, 
over ]\Ir. Goschen's signature. " The economical and social 
advantages," said the last President of the Poor Law Board, 
" of free medicine to the poorer classes generally as distinguished 
from actual paupers, and perfect accessibility to medical advice 
at all times under thorough organisation, may be considered as 
so important in themselves as to render it necessary to weigh 
with the greatest care all the reasons which may be adduced 
in their favour." ^ 

(i.) Domiciliary Treatment 

So far as published documents go, we cannot find that any 
inquiry was made by the Local Government Board (at any 
rate on its Poor Law side) as to the advantage and feasibility 
of this suggestion of providing free medical assistance, 
under thorough organisation, to the poorer classes generally. 
There was no breach of continuity in the policy, begun in 
1865, of transforming the provision for the sick paupers in 
the workhouse, into elaborately equipped, adequately staffed, 
and separately administered general hospitals, which were 
called Poor Law infirmaries. But in the general crusade 
against outdoor relief, initiated by the able and zealous 
inspectorate in 1871, there w^as no exception made for outdoor 
medical relief.^ There was accordingly (just as Vv^e have 
shown to be the case in regard to widows and the aged) no 
limitation, corresponding to the express exceptions of the 
General Orders in favour of the sick, in the phrases con- 
demnatory of outdoor relief generally, v/hich are to be found 
in the Annual Eeports and Circulars of these years. The 
inspectors, it is clear, made no distinction, in their persistent 

^ Twenty-second Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1S69-70, p. lii. 

2 Mr. Longley, indeed, in his Report on the Administration of Outdoor 
Relief in the Metropolis, seems to allude to the official dictum of the Poor Law 
Board under Mr. Goschen, in favour of ' ' free medicine to the poorer classes 
generally. " He sternly condemns ' ' any gradual drifting into a system of 
medical State charity," and deprecates the fact that this tendency "has 
received higher sanction than that of the prevalent belief of the poor, or even of 
the practice of Boards of Guardians " (Third Annual Report of the Local 
Government Board, 1873-4, p. 161). 



^ 



2o8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

pressure against " outdoor relief," between medical and other 
relief, between hygienic advice and money doles. Mr. Longley, 
indeed, went so far as to condemn, expressly because it pro- 
vided medical relief otherwise than in the workhouse, the 
whole system of Poor Law dispensaries which the Central 
Authority had itself just initiated and practically forced on 
the Metropolitan Boards of Guardians.^ This report of 
Mr. Longley's was honoured by notice in the annual volume, 
and commended by the Local Government Board for " careful 
consideration." ^ There is, therefore, some warrant for the 
inference that the Local Government Board, under Mr. 
Stansfeld and Mr. Sclater-Booth, had not only put aside the 
suggestion of providing free medical attendance for the poorer 
classes generally, but also that it had now become the policy 
of the Central Authority — so far as we can discover, for the 
first time since 1834 — to restrict, as far as possible, even such 
domiciliary medical attendance as was being given under the 
Poor Law to the sick poor. 

It is, however, fair to say that this policy of restricting 
outdoor medical relief was not expressed in any alteration of 

1 " The dispensary system should be regarded, in common with every 
improved form of out-relief, not as a final object of Poor Law administration, 
but merely as a means of administering with greater efficiency that legal relief 
Avhich, as I have attempted to show elsewhere, is most safely and effectually 
given in the form of indoor relief. It would, of course, be idle, and worse than 
idle, to stifle all attempts to reform the administration of out-relief, on the 
ground that it is desirable, and may, at some remote period, be possible to 
abolish, or at least greatly to curtail it ; and no reform of the practice of relief 
was probably more urgently needed, or has proved more effectual, than that 
now under consideration. It must not, however, be forgotten that side by side 
with Poor Law dispensaries, has grown up, also under the sanction of the 
Metropolitan Poor Act, a system . . . which by encouraging and affording 
special facilities for the grant of indoor relief to sick paupers, must, if the policy 
of the Act be unflinchingly carried out, eventually tend ... to the gradual 
abolition of out-relief to the sick, other than those incapable of removal from 
their homes. If this be so, Poor Law dispensaries . . . must ultimately be 
found to have had for the most part a merely temporary place in the system 
of relief in London. . . . The character of permanence should not be hastily 
affixed to the system which they represent " (Mr. Longley's Report on Indoor 
Relief in the Metropolis, in Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, pp. 41-42). In 
spite of this criticism, the Central Authority continued to sanction Poor Law 
dispensaries. Elaborate institutions on the London plan were established in 
other unions under the general powers of the Act of 1834 ; see, for instance, 
the Special Order of 9th June 1873, to Portsea Island Union ; those of 
4th March and 28th August 1880, to Birmingham; those of 30th November 
1885, and 9th January 1895, to Plymouth. 

2 Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, p. xxi. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 209 

the General Orders, nor, explicitly, in any published minute 
or circular of the Central Authority itself. In the 1871 
Circular, discouraging outdoor relief generally, it is, for 
instance, merely suggested that all paupers receiving relief on 
account of temporary sickness — among whom there were at 
that date apparently some 119,000 sick persons^ — should be 
visited at least fortnightly by the relieving officer.^ The 
Central Authority clung to the general disqualification of 
paupers, even those in receipt of medical relief only, though 
the Parliamentary Secretary had to admit that : " No doubt 
the Legislature had made an exception in the cases of vac- 
cination and of education, and it might be that the exception 
should be extended to infectious diseases."^ But when it was 
pressed to impose a limit of one month to each grant of 
outdoor relief, the request was, on the cautious advice of the 
permanent advisers, definitely refused, lest hardship should be 
caused in cases of sickness ; though it was said that the 
guardians themselves might put such a limit, " where such 
.... may properly be imposed." * 

The Central Authority was willing to consider any 
proposal to amend the law, so as to allow of the compulsory 
removal to the workhouse of sick persons who had no proper 
lodging accommodation.^ But even to a person who had refused 
to enter the workhouse, the guardians were not to deny 

^ See the statistics in Twenty-second Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 
1869-70, p. xxiv. 

2 Cii'cular of 2nd December 1871 ; in First Annual Report of the Local 
Government Board, 1871-2, p. 67. 

3 Mr Salt, as Secretary of the Local Government Board, on Disqualification 
by Medical Relief Bill, Hansard, 11th December 1878, vol. 243, p. 630. In 
1876 the disqualification had been explicitly re-enacted in the Divided Parishes 
and Poor Law Amendment Act (39 & 40 Vic. c. 61, sec. 14), promoted by 
the Central Authority itself, whose Parliamentary representatives continued for 
years to resist all proposals for its abolition or attenuation. In 1883 it was 
incidentally undermined by maintenance and treatment in the infectious 
diseases hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board being declared not to be 
parochial relief (Diseases Prevention Act 1883, 46 & 47 Yic. c. 35). Not until 
1885 did the Central Authority consent to its abolition, as regards persons in 
receipt of medical relief only, in the Medical Relief Disqualification Act 1885 
(48 & 49 Vic. c. 46). Even then the "stigma of pauperism" was preserved, 
by omitting to repeal sec. 14 of the 1876 Act above cited, so that persons in 
receipt of medical relief only are still nominally disqualified from voting at an 
election of a Poor Law guardian, "or in the election to an office under the 
provisions of any statute." 

* Local Government Board to Chairman of Central Poor Law Conference, 
12th May 1877 ; in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 55. 6 jj)i^_ p_ 54^ 

P 



2IO ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

outdoor medical relief if sick/ and in no case were the sick to 
be removed from their homes unless certified by the medical 
officer as physically able to endure the journey.^ There was 
thus, even between 1871 and 1885, no explicit reversal, on 
grounds of Poor Law principle, of the old policy which, it will 
be remembered, had not been condemned by the 1834 Eeport 
of outdoor relief to the sick. If a " destitute young husband 
or wife were sick," Mr. Sclater-Booth, speaking as President of 
the Local Government Board, told the House of Commons in 
1876, "they would not be taken into the workhouse, but 
would receive outdoor rehef."^ Two years later the Central 
Authority actually declared itself in favour of supplying to 
the sick poor who were under domiciliary treatment, not only 
medical attendance and maintenance, but also skilled pro- 
fessional nursing. There was, it said in reply to influential 
medical pressure, " nothing to prevent the guardians supplying 
such assistance," and the Central Authority was even " desirous 
of encouraging this arrangement as much as possible," though 
the insufficient supply of qualified nurses was likely to 
"render impracticable for some time to come any general 
application of the system of paid nurses in the treatment of 
the poor at their own homes." * 

1 Local Government Board decision, in Local OovernmeTit Chronicle, 11th 
June 1904, p. 635. 

2 Circular of 23rd May 1879, in Ninth Annual Report, 1879-80, p. 92. 

3 Hansard, 13th June 1876, vol. 229, p. 1780 (in Committee on Poor Law 
Amendment Bill). 

* Local Government Board to Dr. Mortimer Glanville {Laticct Memorial on 
Poor Law Medical Relief Reform), 12th November 1878 ; in Eighth Annual 
Report, 1878-9, pp. 91-2. In spite of this official answer, we may infer a certain 
internal conflict of policy with regard to these salaried outdoor Poor Law nurses. 
Though the Central Authority expressed itself as " desirous of encouraging" the 
experiment, we cannot find that it issued the Order, without which no board of 
guardians could create a new salaried office, for nearly fourteen years. The 
District Nurses Order, which was merely permissive, and which, therefore, could 
not have been delayed merely because there were, in 1878, not enough trained 
nurses to supply every union in the Kingdom, was not issued until 27th January 
1892 (Twenty-second Annual Report, 1892-3, pp. 12-13). We cannot find that 
any ' ' paid nurses in the treatment of the poor at their own homes " were 
sanctioned before that date. Moreover, even then, it is difficult to feel sure 
that the Central Authority was still, to use its words of 1878, "desirous of 
encouraging this arrangement as much as possible." In sending the Order to 
boards of guardians, it accompanied it by a circular, which can scarcely be 
deemed encouraging. It was of opinion that " it can only be under exceptional 
circumstances that a sick pauper, whose illness is of such a character as to 
require that the services of a nurse should be provided by the guardians, can, 
Tvith propriety, be relieved at home. At the same time it appears . . . that 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 21 1 

(ii.) Institutional Treatment 

Meanwhile, however, the substitution of indoor for outdoor 
relief in the case of the sick ^ was being supported on grounds, 
not of Poor Law principle, but of medical efficiency. The 
transformation of the workhouses into what the Poor Law 
inspectors themselves began to call "State hospitals" made 
more striking than ever the contrast between the light, clean, 
and airy newly-built infirmary ward, with trained nurses, a 
resident doctor, complete equipment, and a scientifically 
determined dietary, on the one hand ; and the insanitary and 
overcrowded hovel or slum tenement, on the other, in which the 
sick pauper had no other food than was provided by the 
pittance of outdoor relief, no further nursing than his family 
could supply, and no better medical attendance than the grudg- 
ingly accorded order on the district medical of&cer could 
command. Quite irrespective of " Poor Law principles," the 
case for institutional rather than domiciliary treatment of 
nearly every sick case became, to the medical experts who now 
advised the Central Authority, simply overwhelming. "The 
treatment which in sickness the poor receive in workhouses 
Constitutes," said the Central Authority in 1878, "one of the 
most valuable forms of medical relief With a considerable 
portion of the population, indeed, it is the only mode in which, 
when overtaken ly sickness, their medical needs can he adequately 
met." ^ This policy led not only to an incessant pressure on 

where circumstances render it desirable the nurses employed in such attendance 
•should be duly appointed officers of the guardians, having recognised qualifica- 
tions for the position, and being subject in the performance of their duties to 
the control of the guardians, and the Board have consequently decided to 
empower boards of guardians to appoint such officers " (Circular of 1st February 
1892 ; in Twenty-second Annual Report, 1892-3, p. 9). Fifteen more 
years have elapsed ; but we do not gather that the experiment, which the Central 
Authority in 1878 was desirous of encouraging, has been very strenuously pressed 
by the inspectors, or the power made publicly known. The result is that we 
cannot find that it has yet taken shape even to the extent of as many as a 
dozen salaried Poor Law nurses for the outdoor sick from one end of the Kingdom 
to the other. 

1 "The sick" were held to include not only acute cases, but also cases of 
"chronic disease requiring regular medical treatment and trained nursing" 
(and also venereal and skin diseases, including the itch). (Local Government 
Board to Poplar Union, October 1871 ; MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 
^th October 1871). 

2 Local Govemment Board to Dr. Mortimer Glanville {Lancet Memorial on 
Poor Law Medical Relief Reform), 12th November 1878 ; in Eighth Annua] 
Report, 1878-9, p. 91. 



212 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

boards of guardians to provide the " State hospitals " which 
had, from 1865 onwards, been expected from the guardians of 
all populous unions,^ but also to a positive encouragement of 
sick persons, whether or not actually destitute in the technical 
sense of the term, to take advantage of them. We see this 
first with regard to infectious diseases. The hospitals of the 
Metropolitan Asylums Board, maintained out of the Poor Rate 
exclusively for paupers, and technically only workhouses like 
any others, soon came to be used, free of charge, by smallpox 
and fever patients who were not paupers.^ It became the 
official policy, well understood by the Central Authority, to 
get removed to these Poor Law institutions every patient, 
whether destitute or not, who could not be adequately isolated 
at home.^ Already in 1875 the Central Authority expressly 
authorised the medical superintendent to admit without an 
order any smallpox or fever patient presenting himself, if 
refusal to admit might involve danger,* and in 1887 it ex- 

1 The more old-fashioned guardians failed to keep pace with the Central 
Authority in its ignoring of the princiijle of "less eligibility " with regard to the 
sick ; see, for instance, The New Pauper Infirmaries and Casual Wards, by a 
Lambeth Guardian, 1875, in which the elaborate hospital requirements are 
objected to as being far too good for paupers. Where the guardians persisted 
in refusing to provide the elaborate and exj^ensive new infirmary accommodation 
considered necessary, the Central Authority at last issued a peremptory Order 
requiring them to submit plans within a month, under penalty of having plans 
"prepared at the expense of the union" and of being deprived of "the benefit 
of participation in the Common Poor Fund " (Local Government Board to St. 
Olave's Union, Jime 1873 ; see Local Governvient Chronicle, 5th July 1873, 
p. 379). 

2 For unions out of London we have to note an extraordinary provision of 
1879, proposed by the Central Authority itself. Boards of guardians in rural 
districts were empowered to transfer any of their buildings (into which only 
destitute persons could legally be received) from themselves as Poor Law 
authorities to themselves as public health authorities (in which case the buildings 
became available, without the stigma of pauperism, for all classes of the popula- 
tion) (Poor Law Act 1879 (42 & 43 Vic. c. 54, sec. 14)). We cannot discover 
in which cases, if any, this provision was acted upon, and the necessary con- 
firmatory Order issued by the Central Authority ; or what difference it made to 
the buildings. 

3 This was, in effect, to hold that inability to secure isolation, when isolation 
was required, amounted to destitution, so far as this kind of medical relief was 
concerned, just as a man requiring an expensive surgical operation was legally 
within the definition of destitute for the purpose of the operation if he could not 
pay the market price of it, even if he had ample food, clothing, and shelter. 
We cannot discover, however, that this explanation was actually given in an 
official document. Under it, not merely ' ' a considerable portion of the popula- 
tion," but practically five-sixths of it would, in cases of infectious disease, have 
to be deemed destitute. 

4 Order of 10th February 1875, art. 4. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 213 

pressly permitted even non-urgent cases to be admitted on the 
certificate of any medical practitioner.-' Nevertheless, in 1877 
the Central Authority was still taking the line that "the 
hospitals . . . of . . . the Metropolitan Asylums Board are 
essentially intended to meet the requirements of the destitute 
class, and that the admission ... of persons not in need of 
poor relief is altogether exceptional." ^ Two years later, 
however, by a statute promoted by the Central Authority itself, 
the Metropolitan Asylums Board were expressly empowered to 
receive non-pauper patients, though only under contracts with 
the local public health authorities, by which they were to be 
paid for.^ "We cannot discover which vestries and district 
boards, if any, entered into such contracts. Not until 1883, 
when these fever and smallpox hospitals had been a dozen 
years in use by non-paupers, was the position temporarily 
legalised by the Diseases Prevention Act of 1883 ^ — a measure 
also carried by the Central Authority itself — which, whilst 
leaving these hospitals as Poor Law institutions, administered 
by a Poor Law authority, and kept up out of the poor rate, 
declared that admission, treatment, and maintenance therein 
should — whether the patients were or were not otherwise 
paupers — not be deemed parochial relief, or carry with it 
any disqualification whatever.^ Since that day we have the 
remarkable spectacle of the Poor Law Authorities, Central and 
Local, annually congratulating themselves on the fact that, 
year after year, they were managing to attract into these 
expensive Poor Law institutions, for gratuitous maintenance 
and treatment, a larger and larger percentage of the total 
number of cases notified.'^ 

1 Circular of 8th July 1887, in Seventeenth Annual Ecport, 1887-8, p. 9. 

2 Circular of 2nd January 1877, in Sixth Annual Report, 1876-7, p. 33. 

3 Poor Law Act 1879 (42 & 43 Vic. c. 54, sec. 15). 
•* 46 & 47 Vic. c. 35. 

5 The Central Authority was apparently loth to accept the situation. The 
statute was deliberately made only a temporary one, expiring in a year. But 
it was annually renewed, and in 1891 the provision Avas made permanent in the 
Public Health (London) Act of that year. Meanwhile the Poor Law Act 1889 
(52 & 53 Vic. c. 56, sec. 3), had expressly authorised the admission of non- 
paupers, entitling the guardians to recover the cost from the patients if the 
guardians chose ; but making their expenses, in default of such recoupment, 
chargeable (as were the expenses of the pauper patients) on the Common Poor 
Fund. We cannot discover that any attempt was made to recover the cost from 
the patients ; and in 1891 the very idea was abandoned. 

^ Annual Reports of the Meti-opolitan Asylums Board, 1889-1906. In 1888, 



214 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

A similar enlargement of the sphere of the Poor Law 
institution has, of late years, been going on in other than 
infectious cases. "The poorer classes generally," to use Mr. 
Goschen's words, " as distinguished from actual paupers," 
came more and more to appreciate the practical distinction 
between the workhouse and the Poor Law infirmary ; and, 
especially in the Metropolis and the large towns, the latter 
became more and more freely used as a general hospital.^ 
This tendency was facilitated in London by the operation 
of the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, established by 
the Central Authority itself, which, from 1870 onward, bore 
the bulk of the cost of maintenance of the Poor Law infirmaries, 
as of the hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. ^ The 
Central Authority saw with approval the increasing attractive- 
ness of these institutions, not only in London but throughout 
the country. In an official memorandum communicated to 
all boards of guardians in 1892, it observed that: "The sick 
poor can usually be better tended and nursed by skilled nurses 
in well-equipped sick wards than in their own homes; and 

in anticipation of tlie necessary amendment of the law, the Central Authority 
authorised the admission of diphtheria cases (Local Government Board to 
Metropolitan Asylums Board, October 1888 ; Local Government Chronicle, 
27th October 1888, p. 986 ; Poor Law Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vic. c. 56, sec. 3) ; 
Order of 21st October 1889, in Nineteenth Annual Report, 1889-90, p. 96). 
The boards of guardians outside the Metropolis failed, we believe everywhere, 
to respond to the invitations of the Central Authority to provide similar 
accommodation for infectious diseases. In 1876 the inspector was doing his 
utmost, by special Order of the Central Authority, to induce the Manchester, 
Salford, Chorlton, and Prestwich Boards of Guardians to unite in establishing 
out of the poor rates a hospital for infectious diseases, which should admit 
non-paupers on payment (MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 17th 
February 1876). 

1 In 1889, for instance, the Central Authority provided that, in cases of 
sudden or urgent necessity, the medical superintendent or his assistant should 
admit patients on his own responsibility, without order from the relieving 
officer (Special Order to Mile End Old Towti, 10th October 1889). 

2 Under the Metropolitan Poor Amendment Act 1870, the cost of the 
maintenance of adult paupers in workhouses and sick asylums, to the extent 
of 5d. per head per day, was thrown on the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund. 
To two-thirds of the Metropolitan unions, including all the poorer ones, this 
operated as a bribe in favom- of indoor (or infirmary) treatment as against 
domiciliary or dispensary treatment. Mr. Longley wished to go much further. In 
order practically to compel all the Metropolitan boards of guardians to provide 
these elaborate and expensive hospitals, he recommended that the whole cost of 
indoor maintenance of the sick, when in infirmaries separated in position and 
administration from the ordinary workhouses, should be made a charge on the 
Metropolitan Common Poor Fund (Mr. Longley's Report on Indoor Relief 
in the Metropolis, in Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, p. 54). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 215 

the regularity, neatness, and order of the wards tend to diminish 
the repugance to entering the workhouse, which is often evinced 
by the sick poor of the better class when reduced to want 
by failing health." ^ It did not refuse to permit them to be 
made use of by paying patients, where — as is usually the case 
in rural districts — no " non-pauper institution " was available. 
"If," writes the Central Authority in 1902, there is "a sick 
person who is in receipt of an allowance from a benefit club 
or similar society," and who "is unable to obtain in a non- 
pauper institution such treatment as the illness from which 
he suffers requires," the Central Authority will " offer no 
objection to his admission to the workhouse infirmary." ^ 

To those boards of guardians who clung to the policy 
of " deterring " the sick poor from obtaining medical relief — 
which, as we have shown, Mr. Gathorne Hardy had, on behalf 
of the Central Authority, in 1867 expressly repudiated ^ — all 
this official encouragement to enter Poor Law institutions 
seemed revolutionary. The fact that the sick poor came more 
and more to draw a distinction between the workhouse on the 
one hand, and the Poor Law infirmary or isolation hospital 
on the other, appeared seriously objectionable. When it was 
noticed that the Central Authority officially styled the separate 
institution for the sick " an asylum for the sick poor," ^ or 
" the hospital," or simply the " infirmary," ^ the Manchester 
guardians revolted, and definitely instructed their medical and 
relieving officers " to avoid using the word ' hospital ' or 
' infirmary,' and simply to use the word * workhouse.' " ^ 
Other boards, we believe, insisted — although " the infirmary " 
was an entirely distinct institution — that it should be entered 
only through the workhouse itself. Against this lingering 

^ Memorandum on Nursing in Workhouse Sick Wards, April 1892 ; in 
Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 114. 

2 Decision of Local Government Board in Local Government Chronicle, 
18th October 1902, p. 1051. 

3 Haiisard, 8th February 1867, vol. 185, p. 163 ; see ante, pp. 120-21. 

* Metropolitan Poor Act 1867 (30 & 31 Vic. c. 6) ; Special Order to Central 
London Sick Asylum District, 13th May 1873. 

6 Special Order to Lambeth, 25th August 1873. 

^ MS. Minutes, Manchester Board of Guardians, 14th August 1879. Some 
of the inspectors seem to have shared this objection. As late as 1901 we find 
one reporting that "the admission into our workhouse infirmaries of persons 
above the pauper class, and not destitute, is, I fear, increasing" (Mr. J. W. 
Preston's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 97). 



2i6 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

objection on grounds of Poor Law policy to get the sick cured 
in the most efficient way, we see the inspectorate in the later 
years more and more explicitly protesting. " I wish it were 
possible," said Mr. Preston-Thomas in 1899, "to get rid of 
the name of workhouse (which, by the way, has become 
singularly inappropriate), for I believe that it is to the 
associations of the name rather than to the institution itself 
that prejudice attaches. The disinclination of the independent 
poor to enter the hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, 
which was considerable at first, has now practically vanished, 
and I do not see why there should not be the same change of 
feeling with regard to Poor Law infirmaries in the country." ^ 

In the same spirit we see the Central Authority in these 
three decades persistently pressing Boards of Guardians to 
build new workhouse infirmaries.^ The report becomes current 
in the Poor Law world that Local Government Board officers, 
in interviews, went so far as to say that a certain board of 
guardians was morally guilty of manslaughter in refusing 
to embark on extensive new building operations. The official 
architect's criticisms on the Poor Law infirmary plans sub- 
mitted to him are all on the lines of making these into up-to- 
date general hospitals. The proposals sanctioned by the 
Central Authority go up to a capital outlay of £350 per bed. 
The Central Authority even sanctions special hospitals 
established by the guardians at the expense of the poor rate, 
for particular classes of patients, such as the " West Derby, 
Liverpool and Toxteth Park Hospital, . . . for the reception 

^ Mr. Preston-Thomas's Report, in Twenty-eighth Annual Report, 1898-9, 
p. 135. 

2 "The curtailment of the stage of convalescence," urged the medical in- 
spector in 1875, on a hesitating board of guardians, "alone rapidly covers any 
additional outlay that may have been incurred in structural arrangements, 
whilst the increased chances of recovery to the sick and afflicted are not to be 
measured by any mere money standard " (Dr. Mouat, medical inspector of 
Local Government Board, in Report on Infirmary of Newcastle Union ; MS. 
archives, Newcastle Board of Guardians, 26th November 1875). Already by 
1891 the Central Authority is able to inform Parliament that the number of " sick 
beds " provided in Poor Law institutions throughout the country — irrespective 
of the mere infirm aged — is no less than 68,420 (House of Commons, No. 365 
of 1891 ; Twenty-first Annual Report, 1891-2, p. Ixxxvi). In 1896 there 
were 58,551 persons occupying tlie workhouse wards for the sick, of whom 
19,287 were merely aged and infirm, whilst there were in attendance 1961 
trained nurses, 1384 paid but untrained nurses (probationers), and 3443 
pauper helpers, of whom 1374 were convalescents (Twenty-sixth Annual 
Report, 1896-7, p. Ixvi ; House of Commons, No. 371 of 1896). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 217 

of persons suffering from tuberculosis," many of whom are so 
little destitute that they pay the cost of their treatment and 
maintenance ; ^ or, as at Croydon, Kingston, and Eichmond, 
" for the reception of epileptic and feeble-minded persons," 
who cannot be certified as of iinsound mind.^ Persons in 
receipt of medical relief only are no longer disqualified as 
paupers from being registered as Parliamentary and Municipal 
electors, and it has even been held that admission to a Poor 
Law hospital, sick asylum, or infirmary because of ill-health, 
and for the purpose of being medically treated, amounts to 
medical relief only, even though it incidentally involves also 
maintenance at the expense of the poor rate.^ By 1903 we 
have the Central Authority laying it down in general terms, 
" that it is the guardians' duty to provide for their sick poor, 
and no sanction ... is necessary to sending such cases to in- 
stitutions for curative treatment . . . and . . . paying reasonable 
expenses involved in so doing." ^ The Central Authority 
seems, indeed, to exhaust ofiicial ingenuity in securing the 

* Special Orders to West Derby, Liverpool and Toxtetli Park, 5 th April 
1900 and 25th January 1901. In 1888 two other Boards of Guardians were 
even urged and authorised to combine in the taking over and maintenance of 
a specialised hospital for a particular class of diseases, and to conduct it as 
a Poor Law institution with the aid of a small annual subsidy from national 
funds, on the understanding that all local cases were taken. There was to be no 
sort of " deterrent " influence. Patients, suffering from these diseases, were to be 
admitted on the authority of the medical superintendent of the hospital, without 
there being necessarily any order from the relieving ofBcer ; and without any 
express restriction to the destitute. The well-understood object of this Poor 
Law institution was, in fact, positively to encourage all persons suffering from 
the diseases in question to come in and be cured. There was to be no ob\ious 
sign that it was a Poor Law institution. It was especially ordered that it 
should be styled "The Aldershot Lock Hospital " (Special Orders to Farnham 
and Hartley Wintney Unions, 19th September 1888 and 16th November 
1894). This went on for seventeen years, and was given up in 1905 (ibid. 
30th December 1905). 

- Special Order to Croydon, Kingston, and Richmond, of 27tli December 
1904. We gather that this institution has not been established. A similar 
one exists at Manchester, 

3 By some Revising Barristers under the Medical Relief Disqualification 
Removal Act 1885 (48 & 49 A'ic. c. 46). 

* Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1902-3, by W, A. Casson, 
1904, p. 7. The Poor Law Act 1879 had, in fact, expressly authorised boards 
of guardians to subscribe to charitable institutions to which paupers might have 
access. It was held, for instance, that boards of guardians may, if they choose, 
send their sane adult epileptics to an epileptic colony, and pay the cost of their 
maintenance there {Local Government Chronicle, 29th October 1904, p. 1123). 
In 1901, the Central Authority sanctioned the payment of £70 by the Bramley 
Board of Guardians for a cot in the sanatorium of the Leeds Association for 



2 1 8 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

best possible treatment and also the comfort of the patients 
in the sick wards.^ Any reasonable fee may be paid for 
calling in consultants whenever the medical officer thinks it 
"necessary or desirable," without any special sanction being 
requisite.^ We need not recite the constant struggle to get 
more nurses and better. As early as 1879 a president 
could (perhaps with some ministerial optimism) declare that : 
" in the new infirmaries I have succeeded in abolishing pauper 
help almost entirely." ^ 

The guardians are reminded that the epileptics are 
especially to be incessantly accompanied by trained nurses, 
lest they should be suffocated in their fits.* The sick men 
in the workhouse may be allowed tobacco and snuff, the 
sick women tea, in addition to that prescribed in the dietary 
table.^ The doctor is expressly reminded that it is his duty 
to " order such food as he may consider requisite." ^ When 
a complaint was made that beer was supplied in a Norfolk 
workhouse, the Central Authority refused to interfere with a 
"beer allowance" to sick paupers, given and renewed from 
week to week by direction of the medical officer.'^ The 
guardians are even reminded of the importance of providing 
illustrated books and newspapers for the sick.^ 

Meanwhile the standard of equipment, of resident medical 
attendance, and especially of trained nursing ^ required by the 

the Cure of Tuberculosis (Local Government Board to Bramley Union, February 
1901, in Local Government Chronicle, 23rd February 1901, p. 184). 

^ In 1903 it sanctioned the expenditure involved in the setting up of Rontgen 
Ray apparatus in a Poor Law infirmary (^Decisions of the Local Government 
Board, 1902-3, by W. A. Casson, 1904, p. 10). 

2 Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905, 
p. 39. 

3 Hansard, 24th July 1879, vol. 248, p. 1173. 

* Local Government Board decision, in Local Government Chronicle, 1st 
November 1902, p. 1102. 

^ General Order of 8th March 1894, in Twenty - fourth Annual Report, 
1894-5, pp. xcix, 4-5. 

^ Circular of 29th January 1895, in Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. iii. 

^ Mr. Long in House of Commons (23rd June 1904 ; Hansard, vol. 136, 
p. 971). 

8 Circular of 23rd January 1891 ; Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-1, 
p. xc ; Report of Royal Commission on Aged Poor, 1895, vol. iii. p. 967, 
(Cd. 7684 II). 

9 See the references to nursing in Circulars of 29th January 1895 and 
7th August 1897 ; and the General Order (Nursing of the Sick in Workhouses) 
6th August 1897 ; Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, pp. 109-110 ; Twenty- 
seventh Annual Report, 1897-8, pp. 27-31. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 219 

Central Authority in the Poor Law institutions is constantly 
rising, in correspondence with the progress of hospital science. 
We see all this reflected in the advice and criticisms pressed 
by the inspectorate on the boards of guardians. " The work- 
houses of a past and bygone age," says Mr. Hervey in 1903, 
" are no longer refuges for able-bodied, but are becoming every 
day more of the nature of State hospitals for the aged, sick, 
and infirm. As such, they should he furnished ivith the very 
lest nursing procurable." ^ 

(iii,) The Municijoal Medical Service 

It may be that it is on the Public Health side, which was 
in 1871 added to the Poor Law work of the Central Authority, 
that we may trace the influence of the suggestion that was 
under discussion at the Poor Law Board under Mr. Goschen's 
presidency, just prior to its merging in the Local Government 
Board. The idea of " free medicine to the poorer classes 
generally, as distinguished from actual paupers, and perfect 
accessibility to medical advice at all times under thorough 
organisation " — which the new permanent secretary, Sir John 
Lambert, may have brought back from his official visit to 
Ireland — finds a certain expression in the Public Health Act 
of 1872, re-enacted with additions in 1875, which created 
" one local authority for all public health purposes in every 
place, so that no area should be without such an authority, or 
have more than one." In the rural districts the board of 
guardians became this authority. As such they came under a 
series of responsibilities based upon ideas diametrically opposed 
to those of the Poor Law. Instead of confining their action 

1 Mr. Hervey's Report, in Thirty-second Annual Report, 1902-3, p. 69. 
The total cost of Poor Law medical relief in 1904-5 was £518,994 indoor (to 
which might be added £640,833 for what are now called the "public health 
purposes " of the greatest of all Poor Law authorities, the Metropolitan Asylums 
Board); and £268,537 outdoor (Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, pp. 
251, 589, 590). This aggregate total of £787,531 (excluding the fever 
hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board) omits the maintenance of the 
sick themselves, but includes, however, some items not previously included. 
For comparative purposes we must take the figure for 1903-4 (£423,554), 
which includes only doctors' salaries and drugs. This may be compared with 
the coiTesponding figure for 1881 of £310,456 ; for 1871, of £290,249 ; and 
for 1840 of £151,781 (Twenty-second Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 
1869-70, p. 227 ; Eleventh Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 
1881-2, p. 237). 



220 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

to actual applicants for help, they had to search out cases of 
nuisance or dangerous disease. Instead of restricting their 
administration to those who were willing and anxious for it, 
they were charged with compelling to be done all that was 
required. Instead of being limited in purview to a small 
class specially stigmatised as paupers, the guardians had to 
consider the whole population as needing their attention with- 
out distinction of class or subjection to stigma. They were 
expressly authorised, not merely to repress nuisances, but to 
provide hospitals " for the use of the inhabitants," without any 
limitation to infectious or any other diseases.-' They were 
even empowered, with the consent of the Central Authority, 
to " provide or contract with any person to provide a temporary 
supply of medicine and medical assistance for the poorer in- 
habitants of their district." ^ The Central Authority eagerly 
pressed on the local authorities the policy of the new Act.^ 
We see the Poor Law inspectors — who were " in possession of 
the views of the (Local Government) Board on the subject " — 
explaining to boards of guardians in unions having rural 
districts their new duties ; the future work of their new 
Public Health staff of medical officer of health and sanitary 
inspectors ; and their responsibility for maintaining and im- 
proving the health, not of paupers only, but of the whole 
community.^ We are not here concerned with the progress 
of public health administration, in which the boards of 
guardians cannot be said to have been apt or willing disciples. 
It is not to the boards of guardians, in 1907 still the sanitary 
authorities in non-urban d'istricts, that we owe the elaborate 
medical organisation of an up-to-date Public Health Depart- 
ment, with its peripatetic health visitors and diagnosing 
doctors, its milk depots and campaign against infantile 
mortality, its gratuitous supply of anti-toxins and diarrhoea 
medicine, its gratuitous hospitals and sanatoria no longer con- 
fined to smallpox and fever. We need only notice here the 

1 Sec. 131 of Public Health Act 1875 (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55). 

2 Sec. 133 of ibid. This had been already included in the Sanitary Act of 
1868 (31 & 32 Vic. c. 115, sec. 10). 

3 Circular of 17th August and 12th November 1872, in Second Annual 
Report, 1872-3, pp. 19-20, 41-52. 

* See, e.g. the letters of Mr. Hedley, in September 1872, in MS. archives 
of Newcastle Board of Guardians. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 221 

gradual appreciation, by the Central Authority and the Poor 
Law inspectors, of the intimate connection between short- 
comings in the public health service and an excess of pauper- 
ism. Even from the narrowest standpoint of Poor Lav/ 
principles, the causal connection between disease and pauper- 
ism could no longer be ignored. " The effect of bad house 
accommodation on the health of the poor," writes Mr. Bagenal 
in 1902, "has often been demonstrated by experts in public 
health. Not only are serious illnesses more frequent, but 
damp and draughty dwellings lower vitality to such an extent 
that the bodily vigour and activity, as well as the spirits, are 
affected, and the system becomes unable to withstand actual 
disease. Families are often pauperised on account of sickness 
produced by living in unhealthy conditions. Labourers also 
often become permanently disabled, and fall upon the rates, 
owing to premature old age brought on by insanitary houses. 
To prevent sickness and to prolong the working term of a 
labourer's life must be a gain to the ratepayers, as well as to 
alt classes of the community." ^ To take only one specific 
instance, in the Kedruth Union the reason for a high average 
of pauperism in 1906 was found in the large amount of 
destitution produced by " miner's phthisis," and the great 
number of widows and orphans which it caused, " the total 
number of persons pauperised owing to this special cause 
being . . . 333," besides other cases of infirmity of the 
miners themselves. " A substantial proportion of the ex- 
cessive pauperism in the Eedruth Union is thus accounted for." ^ 

F. — Persons of Unsound Mind 

It does not seem necessary to trace the slight changes in 
the law relating to pauper lunatics, or in the orders and 
circulars of the Central Authority. There appears to have 
been no alteration in the relation of the Central Authority to 
the Lunacy Commissioners, practically no steps being taken 
to initiate policy except upon the suggestion of the latter, 
whose standard of accommodation and treatment continues 
steadily to rise for pauper as for non-pauper lunatics. 

1 Mr. Bagenal's Report, in Thirty-first Annual Report, 1901-2, p. 139. 

2 Mr. Preston -Thomas's Report, in Thirty -fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, 
pp. 471-2. 



222 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

The only point of interest is the continuance, virtually 
unchanged, of the three methods of treatment, viz. maintenance 
in the workhouse, treatment in a lunatic asylum, or grant of 
outdoor relief. 

The number of persons of unsound mind in the workhouse 
continued practically undiminished, without any steps being 
taken to prevent their retention among the aged, the sick, and 
the children, who came more and more to make up the work- 
house population.^ There were, in fact, three classes of cases 
in which a lunatic might be detained in a workhouse. Firstly, 
there is the old provision, under which " the visitors of any 
asylum may, with the consent of the Local Government Board 
and the Commissioners, and subject to such regulations as they 
respectively prescribe, make arrangements with the guardians 
of any union for the reception into the workhouse of any 
chronic lunatics, not being dangerous, who are in the asylum, 
and have been selected and certified by the manager of the 
asylum as proper to be removed to the workhouse." ^ Secondly, 
" where a pauper lunatic is discharged from an institution for 
lunatics, and the medical officer of the institution is of opinion 
that the lunatic has not recovered, and is a proper person to 
be kept in a workhouse as a lunatic, the medical officer shall 
certify such opinion, and the lunatic may thereupon be received 
and detained against his will in a workhouse without further 
order, if the medical officer of the workhouse certifies in 
writing that the accommodation in the workhouse is 
sufficient."^ Thirdly, if it is necessary for the welfare of a 
lunatic, or for the public safety, that he should immediately 
be placed under care and control, pending regular proceedings 
for his removal, he may be taken to a workhouse (if there is 
proper accommodation therein) by a constable, relieving officer, 
or overseer, and may be detained there for three days, during 
which time the proceedings are to be taken ; and in any case 
in which a summary reception order has been or might be 
made, he may be further detained on a justice's order till he 

* It seems to have been entirely as an exception that the Rochdale Guardians 
fitted up what was practically a lunatic asylum in their workhouse, adequately 
equipped, staffed, and isolated ; and took in a number of Lancasliire chronic 
lunatics (Special Order of 13th April 1893 ; Twenty-third Annual Report, 
1893-4, p. xcii). 2 Lunacy Act, 1890, 53 Vic. c. 5, sec. 26. 

3 Ibid. sec. 25 ; cf. Lunacy Act 1889, 52 & 63 Vic. c. 41, sec. 22. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 223 

can be removed, provided that the period does not exceed 
fourteen days,-^ Moreover, any other lunatic might be 
" allowed to remain in a workhouse as a lunatic " if " the 
medical officer of the workhouse certifies in writing : (a) that 
such a person is a lunatic, with the grounds for the opinion ; 
and (6) that he is a proper person to be allowed to remain in 
a workhouse as a lunatic ; and (c) that the accommodation in 
the workhouse is sufficient for his proper care and treatment, 
separate from the inmates of the workhouse not lunatics, unless 
the medical officer certifies that the lunatic's condition is such 
that it is not necessary for the convenience of the lunatic or 
of the other inmates that he should be kept separate." Such 
a certificate signed by the medical officer is sufficient authority 
for detaining the lunatic in a workhouse for fourteen days, but 
no longer, unless within that time a justice signs an order 
for his detention. Failing such a certificate, or, after fourteen 
days, such an order, or if at any time the lunatic ceases to be 
" a proper person to be allowed to remain in a workhouse," he 
becomes " a proper person to be sent to an asylum," and 
proceedings are to be taken accordingly.^ 

Meanwhile the Central Authority continued to permit 
the grant of outdoor relief in cases of lunacy ; and about 
5000 were always so maintained. 

Eegulations for the boarding-out of pauper lunatics first 
appear in the Act of 1889. "Where application is made to 
the committee of visitors of an asylum by any relative or friend 
of a pauper lunatic confined therein that he may be delivered 
over to the custody of such relative or friend, the committee 
may, upon being satisfied that the application has been 
approved by the guardians of the union to which the lunatic 
is chargeable, and, in case the proposed residence is outside 
the limits of the said union, then also by a justice having 
jurisdiction in the place where the relative or friend resides, 
and that the lunatic will be properly taken care of, order the 
lunatic to be delivered over accordingly." The authority 
liable for such a lunatic's maintenance is to pay an allowance 
for his support to the person who undertakes his care ; the 
medical officer of the district is to visit him and report to 

1 Lunacy Act 1890, sees. 20, 21 ; cf. Lunacy Act 1885, 48 & 49 Vic. c. 
52, sees. 2 and 3. 2 m^^ gee. 24. 



224 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the visiting committee every quarter, and two visitors may 
at any time order the lunatic to be removed to the asylum.^ 
Any two Commissioners have also the right to visit any 
pauper lunatic or alleged lunatic not in an institution for 
lunatics or in a workhouse, and call in a medical practitioner ; 
if the latter signs a certificate, and they think fit, the Lord 
Chancellor may direct that the lunatic be received into an 
institution.^ 

For the paupers of unsound mind in the Metropolis there 
was even a fourth alternative, namely, the " district asylums " 
of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. On the opening of the 
Darenth Asylum, the Central Authority quoted, without dis- 
approval, the following remarks of the Lunacy Commissioners : 
" The withdrawal, for proper care, of helpless children of this 
kind [idiots] from the households of many of the industrious 
and deserving poor is a frequent means of warding off 
pauperism in the parents." ^ We do not find, however, any 
more explicit statement on this point. What the Central 
Authority continued to press on the Boards of Guardians was, 
not so much the importance of relieving the struggling poor 
from the burden of their insane or idiotic dependants, nor yet 
the freeing of the workhouses from the presence of persons of 
unsound mind ; but rather of appropriate discrimination. " It 
is of great importance not merely to exclude from the [district] 
asylums those who, by reason of violence or irritability, are 
proper subjects for the county asylum, but also those who, 
from old age or disease, are unfit for the journey to the 
asylum, or who, from the slight degree to which their mind 
is affected, might more properly remain in the work- 
house." * " The removal of helpless, bedridden persons, whose 
mental weakness is, in many cases, the result of old age, to 
asylums situated a considerable distance from the Metropolis, 
is calculated, on the one hand, to be injurious to the persons 
thus removed, and, on the other, to occupy the district asylums 
with a different class of persons from that for which they 
were constructed." ^ Imbecile children are to be kept in the 

1 Lunacy Act 1889, sec. 40 2 jn^l. sec. 42. ^ ,, 

3 Eighth Annual Report, 1878-9, p. xli. a|| 

* First Annual Report, 1871-2, p. xxix. "I 

s Circular Letter, "Metropolitan Asyhims for Imbeciles," 12th February 
1875, in Fifth Annual Report, 1875-6, p. 3. 



I 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 225 

workhouse till they are five years old, and may then be sent 
to the asylum at Darenth.'^ Outside the Metropolis there is 
no specialised Poor Law provision for idiots, who, if not 
received into the county asylum, must either be placed in 
non-Poor-Law institutions at considerable expense, or detained 
in the workhouse. In 1885 the Central Authority even 
suggested that harmless and aged lunatics had, on grounds of 
economy, better be retained in the workhouse, rather than 
removed to an asylum.^ We hear incidentally of a Special 
Order in 1900 under which certain chronic lunatics were 
actually transferred from the Suffolk County Asylum to the 
workhouse of the Mildenhall Union.^ As late as 1905 we 
find the Central Authority expressing regret that so many 
cases of senile imbecility were removed from the workhouses 
to asylums.^ 

Under this policy the number of paupers of unsound 
mind receiving outdoor relief diminished very slightly, being 
4736 on 1st January 1906 ; those in the asylums of the 
Metropolitan Asylums Board and in county and borough 
lunatic asylums rose to no fewer than 92,409 ; whilst those 
in workhouses nevertheless did not fall off from the total of 
thirty-five years previously, being, in fact, on 1st January 
1906, 11,484, or an average of nineteen in each workhouse.^ 

Towards the latter part of the time we begin to find the 
inspectors, somewhat in disaccord with the suggestions of the 
Central Authority itself, protesting against the presence in the 
workhouses even of the chronic lunatic, the harmless idiot, or 
the senile imbecile, on the new ground that their presence 
caused annoyance to the sane inmates — annoyance which had, 
for seventy years, been apparently either unnoticed or not 
considered. " I am sorry to say," reported Mr. Preston-Thomas 
in 1901, " that in all but six of the workhouses in my district 
imbeciles mix freely with the other workhouse inmates. 
Many of them are mischievous, noisy, or physically offensive. 

1 Circular Letter, "Age of Children sent to Imbecile Asylums," 24tli July 
1882, in Twelftli Annual Report, 1882-3, p. 17. 

2 Local Government Board to West Ham, January 1885 ; Local Government 
Chronicle, 24tli January 1885, p. 77. 

3 Special Order of 21st March 1900 (apparently not published V) ; referred 
to in Thirtieth Annual Report 1900-1, p. ci. 

* Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. clxxi. 
5 Ibid. p. clxx. 

Q 



226 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

In some instances, even if their bodily ailment is very slight, 
they sleep in the sick wards in order that they may come 
under the supervision of the nurses, and they frequently 
disturb other patients at night. By day they are a source of 
much irritation and annoyance, and in a small workhouse I 
have known the lives of a number of old men made seriously 
uncomfortable by a mischievous idiot for whom no place could 
be found in an asylum. ... I am much afraid," 
prophetically continued Mr. Preston-Thomas, "that . . . the 
question will be postponed indefinitely, and six or eight 
years hence the idiots will still be worrying the sane inmates 
of workhouses. . . . It is in the country workhouses, 
sometimes with only a dozen imbeciles or less, divided among 
the sexes, that the chief difficulty arises. ... A good 
many are often found useful in the laundry and other domestic 
work of the institution, but I do not think this consideration 
ought to outweigh what may almost be characterised as the 
cruelty of requiring sane persons to associate, by day and by 
night, with gibbering idiots." ^ When the Select Committee 
on the Bill to establish Cottage Homes for the Aged Poor in 
1900 strongly recommended the removal of all imbeciles 
from workhouses, the Central Authority, observing that the 
advisability of this step had been repeatedly brought to its 
notice by guardians and others, declared that the question 
must be deferred.^ 

G. — Defectives 

For the first twenty years after 1871 there is no alteration 
of policy to record with regard to defectives. In fact, the 
Central Authority does not seem to have paid much attention 
to this class, whether mentally or physically defective, during 
this period. It enjoined no policy for the treatment of 
them till 1891. A Circular on "Blind and Deaf and Dumb 
inmates of Workhouses" then required the inspectors to 
"continue to give special attention" to children among this 
class, and urge their removal from the workhouse when 
desirable. It was held that the guardians might, if they 

1 Mr. Preston-Thomas's Report, in Thirtieth Anmxal Reiiort, 1900-1, pp. 
122-3. 

2 Circular of 4th August 1900, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 18. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 227 

chose, pay the whole of the maintenance of deaf and dumh 
children sent to appropriate institutions. No limit has been 
fixed, but in no case has more than £20 a year been 
scanctioned.-^ Adults also were to be given instruction in 
reading and writing, if able to profit thereby, and if such 
instruction could not be provided in the union, they might be 
sent, under contract, to the workhouse of some other union 
where teaching might be available, either in the workhouse or 
in the town. It is also suggested that arrangements might 
with advantage be made for reading aloud to the aged blind 
in the workhouse. But it was held to be illegal to pay for 
the technical instruction of blind workhouse inmates at a 
non-Poor-Law institution.^ From 1903 onward, however, we 
have the almost dramatic extension of the scope of the 
Education Authority with regard to defective children of all 
kinds — a change which has already gone far to transfer 
responsibility for the treatment of the blind, the deaf and 
dumb, the crippled, the epileptic, and the mentally defective 
children up to sixteen from the Poor Law to the Education 
Authorities. The first step was the Act of 1893, which 
required the local Education Authority to provide education 
for blind and deaf children ; but children sent to any 
institution from the workhouse, or boarded out by the 
guardians, were expressly excluded.^ In 1899 similar 
provision was made for defective and epileptic children ; and 
the guardians were authorised to arrange with the Education 
Authority to take over Poor Law cases on payment.* Under 
these Acts provision is more and more being made, especially 
in London, for the education, treatment, and even (where 
requisite) maintenance in educational institutions of these 
children up to sixteen. 

In 1903 a Special Order provided for the transfer, from 
the Metropolitan workhouses to the special homes of the 
Metropolitan Asylums Board, of children who, without being 

1 Selections from the Correspondeiice of the Local Government Board, vol. i. 
1880, p. 53 ; vol. ii. 1883, p. 281 ; vol. iii. 1888, p. 102. 

2 Ibid. vol. iii. 1888, p. 101. 

3 Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893 (56 and 57 
Vic. c. 42). 

* Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act 1899 (62 
and 63 Vic. c. 32). 



228 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

certified as of unsound mind, were mentally defective; and 
for their retention in such homes until twenty-one years of 
age.-^ We do not find any corresponding provision with 
regard to the mentally defective children outside the 
Metropolis ; or for the mentally defectives beyond sixteen 
years of age. In the rural workhouses, at any rate, which 
make up three-fourths of the whole, it would seem that in 
1907, as it was officially reported in 1879, these mentally 
defectives, together with " the imbeciles, are more or less 
mixed up with the ordinary inmates of the class to which they 
belong." ^ 

In recent years we see the Central Authority willingly 
sanctioning special provision for individual cases. Thus, 
special assistance may be given for starting in trade persons 
handicapped by their infirmities. In one case, the Board 
sanctioned the purchase of tools for a blind man who had 
been taught a trade.^ In another case, "an adult having 
become incapacitated by reason of accident from again 
following his usual occupation, the guardians were desirous of 
paying a premium in consideration of his being taught a 
trade which the nature of his infirmity would not prevent his 
carrying on. On the proposal being submitted to the Local 
Government Board, the Board observed that as the person 
was too old to be bound as an apprentice, there was no 
authority for the payment of the premium, but they suggested 
whether the difficulty might not be overcome by out-reUef 
being granted during the period of learning." * 

A third instance is given as follows : "A boy, aged sixteen 
years, has been a pupil at an institution for the blind, the fees 
for his board and education having hitherto been paid by the 
said board [of guardians] under the Elementary Education 
(Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893. The boy is desirous of 
competing for a scholarship of the value of £40 a year from 
the Institution for the Blind in London; total fees, £60 a 
year. The guardians wish to contribute £13 a year, the 
father, who earns on an average £2 : 2s. a week, being willing 

1 Special Order of 4th March 1903; TMrty-third Annual Report, 1903-4,. 
p. ci. 

2 Mr. Courtenay Boyle's Report, in Eighth Annual Report, 1878-9, p. 120. 

3 Local Government Chronicle, 29th November 1902, p. 1203. 
* Ibid. 6th December 1902, p. 1225. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 229 

to pay the balance of £7, in addition to travelling expenses 
and outfit. The Board hold that the guardians can, assuming 
the boy is in need of relief, carry out their proposal under 30 
and 31 Vic. c. 106, sec. 21."^ An interesting feature of this 
case is the vagueness of the term " in need of relief," instead 
of "destitution." 

S. — The Aged and Infirm 

(i.) Outdoor Relief 

The crusade of the inspectorate of 1871-85, in favour of 
the " workhouse system " of Poor Law relief, made no 
exception in favour of aged persons, whether deserving or 
undeserving, any more than it did in favour of widows with 
young children or the sick. On the contrary, Mr. Longley 
assumed, in every paragraph of his Eeport,^ that the " work- 
house principle " was universally applicable to " the disabled " 
— the term he used for the aged and infirm — as well as to 
the ablebodied. A rigid adherence to the policy of " offering 
the House " would, he argued, lead the poor to provide, or 
induce their relatives to provide, for old age as well as for 
sickness and widowhood.^ Further, Mr. Longley strongly 

1 Dedsions of the Local Government Board, 1902-3, by W. A. Casson, 1904, 
p. 14. 

2 Eeport on the Administration of Outdoor Relief in the Metropolis, in Third 
Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. 136-209. 

3 "One of the chief defects," he said, "in the present administration of the 
law in respect of the disabled class, and especially of that large section of it 
which consists of the aged and infirm ... is its failure to relieve the rates 
from the burden of the maintenance of paupers whose relatives, whether legally 
liable or not, are able to contribute to their support. It is, I believe, within 
the experience of many boards of guardians, that while there are persons who, 
even when in prosperous circumstances, readily permit their aged relatives to 
receive out-relief, an offer of indoor relief is frequently found to put pressure 
upon them to rescue themselves, if not their relatives, from the discredit incident 
to the residence of the latter in a workhouse " {Ibid. p. 188). Another 
inspector expressly reported that he urged guardians with regard to the aged 
"to apply the workhouse test in order to 2>Jit a pressure mi relatives lohoare not 
legally liable" (Mr. Culley's Report in Third Annual Eeport, 1873-4, p. 76). 
So again, in 1875, Mr. Longley argued that the " deterrent discipline " of the 
workhouse was "the keystone of an efficient system of indoor relief," not 
merely for the able-bodied, but also for the aged ("directly on the able-bodied, 
and more remotely upon the disabled class of paupers," the term he always used 
for the aged) (Report on Indoor Relief in the Metropolis, in Fourth Annual 
Report, 1874-5, p. 47). It may, however, be noted that Mr. Longley never 
pretended that this was the policy of the Report of 1834, or of the Act of 1834. 
To him it was ' ' a further and special development ... of the principles of 
the Poor Law Amendment Act" (Ibid. p. 41). 



230 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

deprecated any deviation in particular cases from what he 
euphemistically called " the offer of indoor relief" " That 
which an applicant does not know certainly that he will not 
get," he forcibly argued, " he readily persuades himself, if he 
wishes for it, that he will get ; and the poor, to whom 
any inducement is held out to regard application for relief as 
a sort of gambling speculation, in which, though many fail, 
some will succeed, will, like other gamblers, reckon upon 
their own success." ^ For every " hard case " he relied on the 
springing up in every union of intelligently directed private 
charity. " It is, in fact, the very existence of charity " — 
assumed thus to be always at hand whenever required — 
" which strengthens the hands of the Poor Law administrator 
in adherence to rule." ^ Yet, with a certain want of logic, 
he desired this charitable provision to remain " precarious " 
and " intermittent " ; something which it was possible to argue 
would always be there when a "hard case" occurred, and 
which, nevertheless, could not be counted upon by the poor 
themselves. In other words, he seemed to imply that 
charitable outdoor relief was superior to Poor Law outdoor 
relief for the very reason that though some applicants for it 
would succeed, others in like circumstances would fail to get 
it — thus inducing, one would have thought, exactly the spirit 
of " gambling speculation " on the part of the poor that he 
clearly perceived to arise from the adoption by boards of 
guardians of an intermittent and uncertain relief policy. 

How far this policy of offering the House to all aged 
persons, deserving or undeserving, was assumed by the other 
inspectors to be the official policy, and how far it was pressed 
by them on boards of guardians throughout the country, we 
have been unable to ascertain. Apart from the approval of 
Mr. Longley's views implied by the publication of his Pieports 
and the circulation of them among boards of guardians, the 
Central Authority maintained, between 1871 and 189G, an 
absolute silence ^ on the question of outdoor relief to the aged. 

1 Mr. Longley's Report in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 144. 

2 Ibid. 

3 We onght, perhaps, to mention that, already in January 1895, under Sir 
Henry Fowler's presidency, -vve find the Central Authority writing to a board of 
guardians, to bespeak greater consideration for the aged and infirm, who needed 
outdoor relief. The Bradford Guardians had been in the habit of requiring their 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 231 

All the more surprising to boards of guardians must have 
been the sudden and unexpected reversal of this policy by the 
Central Authority between 1896 and 1900. In July 1896, 
the Central Authority, under the presidency of Mr. Chaplin, 
issued a Circular to boards of guardians outside the Metropolis, 
drawing attention to the importance of the relieving officers 
and medical officers discharging their duties with the greatest 
particularity. In a concluding paragraph the Central Authority 
significantly reminds the guardians of the recommendations of 
the Eoyal Commission on the Aged Poor, of which an extract 
is appended. " We are convinced," run the recommendations 
thus exceptionally brought to the guardians' notice, " that there 
is a strong feeling that in the administration of relief there 
should be greater discrimination between the respectable aged 
who become destitute and those whose destitution is distinctly 
the consequence of their own misconduct ; and we recommend 
that boards of guardians, in dealing with applications for 
relief, should inquire with special care into the antecedents 
of destitute persons whose physical faculties have failed by 
reason of age and infirmity ; and that outdoor relief in such cases 
should he given to those who are shown to have been of good 
character, thrifty according to their opportunities, and generally 
independent in early life, and who are not living under condi- 
tions of health or surrounding circumstances which make it 
evident that the relief given should be indoor relief." -^ But 
this is not all. The poor, far from being left uncertain 
as to the grant of outdoor relief, were to be specially told 
that they would receive it if only they led deserving lives. 
" It accordingly appears to us eminently desirable," continue 
the recommendations, as communicated by the Central Authority 
to the boards of guardians, "that boards of guardians should 
adopt rules in accordance with the general principles which 
we have indicated, by which they may be broadly guided in 
dealing with individual applications for relief, and that such 

outdoor paupers to come every week to the workhouse to receive their doles. 
The Central Authority, far from deprecating this outdoor relief, spontaneously 
pointed out that the system involved very long walks for many infirm people, 
and suggested that the guardians should institute four local pay stations (Local 
Government Board to Bradford Union, 8th January 1895 ; in MS. archives, 
Bradford Board of Guardians). 

1 Circular of 11th July 1896 ; in Twenty-sixth Annual Report, 1896-7, 
pp. 8-9. No mention is made of this Circular in the Annual Report itself. 



232 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

rules should be generally made known for the information of the 
'poor of the union, in order that those really in need may not he 
discouraged from ajjplying." ^ 

How far this reversion to the policy contemplated by the 
1834 Eeport, and continued, as we have shown, by the Poor 
Law Commissioners, and the Poor Law Board down to 1871, 
obtained the adhesion of the inspectors who had grown up in 
the traditions of Mr. Longley's Eeports of 1871-5, we have 
been unable to ascertain.^ Nor is it clear that the partial 
circulation ^ by the Central Authority of the recommendations 
of the Eoyal Commission affected the admonitions against 
outdoor relief generally, which the inspectors had for nearly 
thirty years been addressing to the boards of guardians.^ Four 
years later the Central Authority took an even more decisive step. 

1 Ibid. p. 9. In September 1896, under Mr. Chaplin's presidency, the Central 
Authority " saw no objection " to a proposal of the Poplar Guardians to " board 
oiit" an aged married couple in a country cottage at 12s. a week, and added 
that its sanction was not required, if the case fell within " exception 2 to art. 
4" of the Outdoor Eelief Regulation Order. It was simply "non-resident 
relief." But the Central Authority declared that it was impossible for such 
relief to be made chargeable on the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, as 
" boarding-out " was outdoor relief (Local Government Board to Poplar Union, 
25th September 1896 ; MS. archives. Poplar Board of Guardians). The expenses 
of " boarded-out " children had been placed upon the fund by statute, the 
Metropolitan Poor Amendment Act 1869. 

2 Some of them hardly concealed their dismay. " In some instances," says 
Mr. Davy, "where Guardians have been for years endeavouring with patient 
care to administer the Poor Law strictly . . . the opinion of the [Local 
Government] Board with reference to outdoor relief to certain classes of paupers, 
has been the cause of some change, if not of opinion, at all events of practice, 
with the result that the amount paid weekly as outdoor relief has increased 
largely. . . . This has been notably the case in the Faversham Union. . . . 
During the last six montlis the expenditure has increased about 25 per cent. . . . 
In some other Unions . . . the effect of the Circular has been still more marked, 
for the recommendation that adequate relief shoiild be given has been made the 
Occasion for increased grants of outdoor relief all round, the word "adequate" 
being taken to refer to the amount of money given only. ... It cannot be too 
strongly insisted that adequate relief means not only that the relief should 
be sufficient for the wants of the pauper, but that it should be the most suitable 
form of relief for each particular case." Mr. Davy went on to intimate pretty 
plainly that, in his view, normally and typically, " the only adequate form of 
relief is an offer for the workhouse" (Thirtieth Annual Eeport, 1900-1, 
pp. 87-9). 

3 To Boards of Guardians " outside the Metropolis " only. 

* It seems, at any rate, not to have affected their practice of compiling 
statistical tables in which the Unions were contrasted one with another, accord- 
ing to the percentage of the paupers on outdoor relief — irrespective, as we have 
already observed, of the relative proportions of the aged, among their several 
populations ; and (as must now be added) of the policy of the Royal Commission 
on the Aged Poor, which the Central Authority had promulgated. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 233 

In the famous pronouncement on Poor Law Administration 
generally which Mr. Cliaplin issued to all boards of guardians 
in 1900, systematic and adequate outdoor relief to all aged 
persons who were at once destitute and deserving was laid 
down as the definite policy of the Central Authority. " It has 
been felt," runs this Circular, " that persons who have habitually 
led decent and deserving lives should, if they require relief in 
their old age, receive different treatment from those whose 
previous habits and character have been unsatisfactory, and 
who have failed to exercise thrift in the bringing up of their 
families or otherwise. The Board consider that aged deserving 
persons should not he urged to enter the workhouse at all unless 
there is some cause which renders such a course necessary, 
such as infirmity of mind or body, the absence of house 
accommodation, or of a suitable person to care for them, or 
some similar cause, but that they should be relieved by having 
adequate outdoor relief granted to them. The Board are 
hap23y to think that it is commonly the practice of boards of 
guardians to grant outdoor relief in such cases, but they are 
afraid that too frequently such relief is not adequate in amount. 
They are desirous of pressing upon the guardians that such 
relief should, when granted, be always adequate." ^ Nor did 
the Central Authority content itself with merely issuing the 
Circular. Letters were sent in a few months' time to all the 
boards of guardians asking what action had been taken with 
regard to the suggested grant of outdoor relief to aged deserving 
persons, and, in particular, whether the practice was to grant 
an adequate amount to each case. The effect was (to use the 
words of an inspector) to produce " a good deal of discussion 
, . . upon the question of the amount of outdoor relief granted 
to aged deserving persons." ^ "I rather fear," said another 
inspector, " that in some unions it has rather been regarded 

1 Circular of 4th Aiigust 1900 ; in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, 
pp. 18-19. This momentous new departure is not referred to in the Annual 
Eeport itself. Retiu'ns published in the previous year had shown that of the 
286,929 paupers over sixty-five on 1st January 1900, only 74,597 were 
indoor paupers, and of these, only 40,809 were in the workhouses as distinguished 
from infirmaries, etc. The other 212,332 had outdoor relief. Outside the 
Metropolis, indeed, eight out of every ten had outdoor relief ; one was in the 
infirmary, and there was only one in the workhouse (Twenty-ninth Annual 
Report, 1899-1900, p. Ivii). 

2 Mr. Bagenal's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 154. 



234 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

as a sort of mandate to increase the system of out-relief 
generally. This the Circular did not intend."^ On the 
other hand, yet another inspector remarks that only " a few 
boards have looked at the (Local Government) Board's 
suggestions from a sympathetic point of view, and have 
increased their regular allowances to the aged out-paupers, 
but in a large majority of the unions the guardians state that 
alteration is not called for. . . . The principle is . . . warding 
off destitution, not providing maintenance." ^ Whatever was 
the intention of the Central Authority, it is evident that the 
replies (which were not published and which we have not 
seen) that it received to its repeated inquiries must have 
revealed an enormous diversity of practice, utterly at variance 
with the principle of national uniformity. In one union there 
would be hardly any cases for which the guardians would 
grant outdoor relief at all. In the next union practically 
every aged applicant would get it. The conception of 
adequacy revealed in the replies must have been equally 
various. In the West Eiding the amount allowed per aged 
person ranged from Is. 6d. a week to as much as 7s. 6d. a 
week, whereas in the East Eiding the variations were only 
between 2s. 6d. and 5s. for each person.^ We happen to 
know that the Bradford Guardians reported that, with greater 
uniformity, they gave 5 s. a week for each deserving aged 
person.^ We have not been able to ascertain what action, if 
any, was taken by the Central Authority on these replies. 
No objection appears to have been taken, and no criticism 
to have been made, either in respect of the virtual refusal 
of outdoor relief to the deserving aged in some unions, or in 
respect of its almost indiscriminate bestowal in others, or again, 
in respect of the wide range of variation between union and 
union, in the amount allowed for eacli person. It is thus not 
clear what is now the policy of the Central Authority on these 
points. Its latest utterance is the Circular of 1900. Since 

1 Mr. Wethered's Keport, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 133. 

2 Mr. Baldwyn Fleming's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report. 1900-1. 
pp. 112-113. 

3 Mr. Bagenal's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 154. 

* Local Government Board to Bradford Union, 10th January 1901 ; 
Bradford Union to Local Government Board, 26th January 1901; in MS. 
archives, Bradford Board of Guardians. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 235 

then, so far as we can discover, it has been silent on the 
subject. 

(ii.) Indoor Relief 

Meanwhile there had accumulated in the workhouses of 
the Metropolis (where the effect of the Metropolitan Common 
Poor fund had been to offer a premium on indoor relief to 
two-thirds of the unions), and in those of the unions up and 
down the country in which Mr. Longley's policy had been 
more or less carried out, a large number of aged people, who 
became permanent residents.-^ This fact, already noticeable 
and officially recorded in 1867,^ did not lead to any change 
in the policy of workhouse administration laid down by the 
Central Authority. The General Consolidated Order of 1847, 
framed essentially to deal with workhouses in which the able- 
bodied were the most important feature, was not amended 
to meet the new conditions. The structural improvements 
which, as we have already described, began to be adopted after 
the Lancet inquiry of 1865, continued to be pressed for, and 
eventually insisted on, so far as regards new workhouses. In 
this respect the old people in particular unions shared in the 
general benefit. But we do not find that the Central 
Authority, after 1871, had any policy of altering the general 
regime of the old people's wards, corresponding to that which, 
as we have described, took place with regard to the sick 
wards. On the contrary, we must note, as part of 
Mr. Longley's policy, his emphatic warning in 1873, that the 

1 It was not so much that the " offer of the House " increased the aggregate 
population of the workhouses. Between 1871 and 1891, this only rose, out- 
side the Metropolis, from 131,334 to 139,736. (In the Metropolis, owing to 
the development of the infirmaries into general hospitals, and tlie working of 
the Common Poor Fund, the rise was more considerable, viz. from 36,739 to 
58,482). But the workhouse population gradually changed in character, the 
able-bodied being replaced by the aged. On 1st January 1900, there were 
found to be, in the workhouses themselves, no fewer than 40,809 persons over 
sixty-five, and in the workhouse infirmaries, etc., 33,788 more, making a total 
over sixty-five of 74,597 ; being more than 38 per cent of the total inmates 
(Twenty-ninth Annual Report, 1899-1900, p. Ivii). 

2 "Able-bodied people are now scarcely at all found in them during the 
greater part of the year. . . . Those who enjoy the advantages of these 
institutions are almost solely such as may fittingly receive them, viz. the aged 
and infirm, the destitute sick and children. Workhouses are now asylums 
and infirmaries " (Dr. E. Smith, Medical Officer to the Poor Law Board ; in 
Twentieth Annual Report, 1867-8, p. 43). 



236 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

workhouses had already become so " attractive to paupers," as 
to furnish " no test of destitution." ^ He made no exception 
in favour of the old people's wards. It was, in fact, the 
" deterrent discipline " of the workhouse that he regarded as 
" the keystone of an efficient system of indoor relief," not 
merely for the able-bodied, but also, through its effect on the 
minds of those who were still young, and on the relations of 
those who were old, also for the aged.^ We may, therefore, 
understand why it is that we find, between 1871 and 1892, 
practically nothing in the way of expression of the policy of 
the Central Authority with regard to the indoor treatment of 
the aged. It stood by the General Consolidated Order of 
1847.^ Even the attempt made in 1867-75 to revert to the 
policy of the 1834 Eeport, so far as to have specialised 
institutions for the aged, the sick, and the able-bodied, as well 
as for the children, was not persisted in, so far as the aged were 
concerned. No other unions were found to adopt the joint 
arrangements of Poplar and Stepney under which the aged 
and infirm of both unions had a workhouse to themselves, and 
even this one was brought to an end in 1892.'* 

In 1892 the note changes. From that date onward we 
get a distinct reversion, as regards the aged indoor pauper, to 
the policy indicated in the 1834 Eeport ("the old might 
enjoy their indulgences "), from which the Poor Law Com- 
missioners of 1834-47, and the successive Central Authorities 
of 1847-1892, had turned away. 

It is interesting to see that the new departure began over 

1 Office Minute of 1873. 

2 ' ' Directly on the able-bodied, and more remotely, upon the disabled class 
of paupers," the term he always used for the aged (Report on Indoor Relief 
in the Metropolis, in Fourth Annual Report, 1874-5, p. 47). 

3 See ante, pp. 54-82. 

* Special Order of 18th April 1892 ; Twenty-second Annual Report, 1892-3, 
p. Ixxix. The only item of policy as regards the aged in the workhouse, to 
be noted between 1871 and 1892, seems to be the insistence by Parliament in 
1876 that married couples (who if both persons wei'c over sixty could not since 
1S47 be made to live separately) might, if the guardians chose to allow it, live 
together if either person were over sixty, infirm, aged, or disabled (39 and 40 
Vic. c. 61, sec. 10). This was communicated to the boards of guardians in 
1885 (Circular of 3rd November 1885, in Fifteenth Annual Report, 1885-6, 
p. 23.) No great attempt was made to get the guardians to provide the necessary 
separate accommodation, or to make it decently habitable. Thus, at Poplar, 
there were no rooms for married coiiples until 1884, and then they were left for 
fifteen months without any means by Mdiich they could be warmed. At last tha 
Centi-al Authority called attention to it (Local Government Board to Poplar 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 237 

tobacco.^ The Liverpool Select Vestry determined to give the 
well-conducted old men in the workhouse the indulgence of a 
weekly screw of tobacco, whether or not they were employed 
on disagreeable duties. The auditor objected. The vestry 
insisted. The Central Authority was obdurate. The local 
body appealed to its Parliamentary representatives. It was 
suggested as a compromise that the medical officer might be 
got to include it in the dietary table, when the Central 
Authority would not refuse to sanction it.^ The vestry 
declined to compromise, and insisted on allowing tobacco as a 
non-dietetic indulgence. Finally, the inspector was instructed 
to say that the objection was withdrawn. No publicity was 
given to the concession, but it gradually leaked out. During 
the year 1892 we see the Central Authority sanctioning by 
letter, without any official publication on the subject, such 
applications as were made by individual boards of guardians 
to be permitted to allow an ounce of tobacco weekly to the 
men over sixty in the workhouse.^ At last, in November 
1892, a General Order was issued permitting it in all unions, 
irrespective of sex, and without limit of amount.* Little more 

Union, 27tli May 1886 ; MS. Minutes, Poplar Board of Guardians, 4th June 
1886). 

It should be noted, too, that it was held that newspapers and periodicals 
might be provided {Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Government 
Board, vol. iii, 1888, p. 134) ; and the employment of old men in three 
workhouses in northern counties in teazing hair, which was excessively 
distasteful to them, and liable to be injurious to their health, was discontinued 
at the instance of the inspector (Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-1, pp. 245-6). 

1 It is not clear from the published documents at what date, or in what 
unions, the Central Authority had first allowed tobacco. In 1880, it decided 
that it could not legally be given to workhouse inmates (not being sick), if it 
had not been specially ordered by the medical officer under arts. 107 and 108 of 
the General Consolidated Order of 1847 {Selections from the Correspondence of 
the Local Governrrvint Board, vol. ii. pp. 3, 72). Yet, by 1885, at any rate, 
the allowance of tobacco or snuff to non-able-bodied paupers, or to such as were 
" employed upon work of a hazardous or specially disagreeable character," with 
permission to smoke in such room as the guardians might determine, had been 
exceptionally granted in particular cases ; see, for instance. Special Order to 
Carlisle of 22nd June 1885, not published in the Annual Report. 

2 " It is the invariable practice," said Mr. Ritchie approvingly, "to provide 
for the aged paupers a better diet than that for the other classes " (Mr. Ritchie 
in House of Commons, 6tli May 1892 ; Hansard, vol. 4, p. 277). 

2 Local Government Board to Bourne Union, August 1892 {Local Government 
Chronicle, 13th August 1892, p. 678) ; Local Government Board to Caistor 
Union, September 1892 {Ihid. 8th October 1892, p. 859). 

4 General Order of 3rd November 1892 : Circular of 9th November 1892 ; 
Twenty-second Annual Report, 1892-3, pp. Ixxxv, 35-6. 



23B ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

than a year later, as some compensation to the old women 
(though they had not been excluded, in terms, from the 
indulgence of tobacco or snuff), they were allowed "dry tea," 
with sugar and milk, irrespective of that provided for in the 
dietary table.-^ Presently, this indulgence is extended to " dry 
coffee or cocoa," if preferred, and the men also are allowed to 
receive it.^ At last, the Central Authority, by two lengthy 
Circulars in 1895 and 1896,^ under the presidency of Sir 
Henry Fowler and Mr. Chaplin respectively, systematically 
laid down principles of workhouse administration, so far as the 
aged were concerned, in sharp contrast with those advocated 
by Mr. Longley, or indeed, with those which had been 
inculcated from 1835 to 1892. It was expressly stated 
that as the character of the workhouse population had so 
completely changed since 1834, the administration no longer 
needed to be so deterrent. The old idea of fixed uniform 
times of going to bed and rising and taking meals was given 
up, it being expressly left to the master and matron to allow 
any of the aged (as well as the infirm and the young children) 
to retire to rest, to rise and to have their meals at whatever 
hours it was thought fit. The visiting committees of work- 
houses were now specially enjoined to see that the aged were 
properly attended to, and recommended to confer with them 
as to any grievances without any ofiicials being present.^ It 
was suggested that the great sleeping wards should be 
partitioned into separate cubicles. The guardians were 
reminded that aged or infirm couples might be provided 
with separate rooms. The well-behaved aged and infirm 
were to be allowed, within reasonable limits,^ to go out for 

1 General Order of 8th March 1894 ; Twenty-fourth Annual Report, 1894-5, 
pp. xcix, 4-5. 

2 Special Order to Gateshead, 15th February 1896 ; see, also the "Specimen 
Order " given in Macmorran and Lushington's Poor Law Orders, second edition, 
1905, p. 1061. 

3 Circular on Workhouse Administration of 29th January 1895 ; 
Memorandum on Visiting Committees of June 1895 ; Circular on Classification 
in Workhouses of 31st July 1896 ; Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, 
pp. Ixxxv, 107-112, 121-3 ; Twenty-sixth Annual Report, 1896-7, pp. Ixxxviii- 
Ixxxix, 9-10. 

* Memorandum on the Duties of Visiting Committees, June 1895 ; in 
Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 122. 

^ Sunday morning, and one day a month, was held to be not sufficient 
outing. " In the case of aged inmates of respectable character," said Mr. 
Chaplin "leave of absence might well be allowed on weekdays more frequently 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 239 

walks, to visit their friends, and to attend their own places 
of worship on Sunday. The rules were to be relaxed to 
allow them to receive visits in the workhouse from their 
friends. There was to be no distinctive dress. Those of 
them who were of good conduct, and who had " previously led 
moral and respectable lives " were to be separated from the 
rest, who " are likely to cause them discomfort," and were to 
have the enjoyment of a separate day-room. The whole note 
of the administration of the old people's wards of the work- 
houses was, in fact, to be changed, so far as the Central 
Authority could change it. In the words of the 1834 
Eeport, the old were to " enjoy their indulgences." Four years 
later another Circular was issued in stronger terms, reiterating 
the suggestions of privileges that the guardians ought to allow 
to the deserving inmates over sixty-five — freedom to rise and 
go to bed and have their meals when they liked, to have their 
own locked cupboards for their little treasures, in all cases 
to have their tobacco and dry tea, to be free to go out when 
they chose, and to be allowed to receive the visits of their 
friends. They were to be given separate cubicles to sleep 
in, and special day-rooms, " which might, if thought desirable, 
be available for members of both sexes . . . and in which 
their meals, other than dinner, might be served at hours fixed 
by the guardians." ^ " It is hoped that, where there is room, 
the guardians will not hesitate to take steps to bring about 
improvements of the kind indicated in the arrangements for 
the aged deserving poor." ^ Four or five months later the 
guardians were stirred up by letter, and asked what they had 
done towards creating the specially privileged class of deserv- 
ing aged inmates that had been so strongly pressed on them.^ 

than is now the case" [at Old Gravel Lane Workhouse] {Hansard, 23rd 
May 1898, vol. Iviii, p. 326). 

1 Circular of 4th August 1900, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, p. 19. 

2 Ihid. p. 20. Nor was this merely a formal expression. "We see, in the 
next few years, the Central Authority cordially sanctioning the provision, at 
no small extra expense in capital and annual maintenance, of new old people's 
wards in some unions, of specialised old men's and old women's homes in others ; 
even to the extent of permitting (as at Woolwich) the location of the most 
respectable and best conducted of the aged in a comfortable private mansion 
conducted with. the minimum of i-ules, and without outward sign of pauperism. 

3 See, for instance, Local Government Board to Bradford Union, 
10th January 1901, in MS. archives, Bradford Board of Guardians. There were 
then, in the Bradford workhouse, twenty aged paupei-s of the first class, and 
seventeen of the second class. Both these day wards had cushioned armchairs, 



240 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

During these years the dietaries for the aged and infirm were 
being altered in the direction of liberality, variety, and freedom 
of choice. ^o\, only were hot meat or fish dinners provided 
(" with sauce "), but also tea, coffee, cocoa, milk, sugar, butter, 
seed cake, onions, lettuce, rhubarb or stewed fruit, sago, 
semolina, and rice pudding. In 1900 "provision is also made 
for . . . the inmates on special infirm diet ... to receive 
daily, before bedtime, or at such time as the guardians may 
fix, a small allowance of milk pudding or similar food to break 
the interval between the usual meals." ^ The Central 
Authority in 1904 made no objection to a board of guardians 
subscribing to a lending library, in order to obtain a constant 
supply of books for the deserving aged workhouse inmates, 
and held that no special sanction was required.^ Finally, " it 
is open to guardians, if they think fit, to incur reasonable ex- 
penses in providing a piano, for use at divine service [and 
therefore, presumably also at other times, once it was installed] 
held in a workhouse infirmary for old and infirm inmates " ; ^ 
or to provide a harmonium at the cost of the poor rate for 
the use of the inmates of the workhouse.^ 

I. — Non-Eesidents 

There is no change to record in 1871 in the expressed 
policy of preventing relief to paupers not resident within the 
union. Such relief (given in order to avoid the expense and 

lockers with keys for each inmate, carpets on the floor, curtains to the windows, 
and were made comfortable with cushions, coloured table-cloths, pictures, and 
ornaments. The inmates had special dormitories (Bradford Union to Local 
Government Board, 26th January 1901). The General Consolidated Order of 
1847 was still nominally in force. 

1 Circular of 11th October 1900 ; Workhouse Regulations (Dietaries and 
Accounts) Order, 1900 ; in Thirtieth Annual Report, 19"00-1, pp. 65-6. But the 
Central Authority struck at afternoon tea ! The St. George's, Hanover Square, 
Guardians were informed that it was " not prepared to assent to the proposal of 
the guardians for the infirm men, and all men over the age of sixty-five years to 
have half a pint of tea daily at 3.30 p.m., between the midday and evenino- 
meals " (Local Government Board to St. George's, Hanover Square, November 
1900 ; see Local Government Chronicle, 17th November 1900, p. 1147). 

2 Local Government Chronicle, 27th August 1904, p. 898 ; Decisions of the 
Local Government Board, 1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905, p. 97. 

3 Local Government Board's Decision, Local Government Chronicle, 1st 
November 1902, p. 1102; Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1902-3 by 
W. A. Casson, 1904, p. 72. 

* Local Government Board to St. German's Union, December 1898 ; Local 
Government Chronicle, 24th December 1898, p. 1192. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 241 

hardship of removal) continued in many cases, but was 
repeatedly blamed by the inspectors. " Non-resident relief 
is given in almost all the unions . . . sixteen per cent of the 
outdoor paupers of Glendale Union were non-resident." ^ In 
1878 the Central Authority suggested that such relief " might 
be almost entirely discontinued." ^ There has been no explicit 
abrogation of this policy down to the present day ; even in 
face of representations that it is "harsh and totally out of 
keeping with the spirit of the times." ^ But from 1871 
onwards we have the force of the maxim weakened by the 
growth of whole classes of cases which the guardians are 
allowed, and even encouraged, to send to places outside the 
union, and maintain there. We need do no more than 
allude to the boarded-out children. Another growing class is 
that of paupers who are placed in certified schools or homes, 
either by way merely of boarding-school (frequently recom- 
mended as a method of disposing of Eoman Catholic children) ; 
or for residence in any industrial or reformatory school ; or 
(irrespective of age) for maintenance in an institution for 
special treatment (blind, deaf and dumb, crippled, epileptic, 
idiot, etc.); or merely in an asylum for the aged and infirm;* 
or for curative treatment in a hospital, convalescent home, 
seaside home, or sanatorium.^ Even able-bodied aged paupers 
may, as the Poplar Guardians were informed in 1896, be 
boarded out in country families, under the guise of non-resident 

1 Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 78. 

2 Memorandum relating to the Administration of Out -relief, February 
1878, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 224. "The suggestion that 
non-resident relief should be absolutely abolished is one in which the president 
is quite disposed to concur, with perhaps, some reservation regarding existing 
cases " (Local Government Board to Chairman of Central Poor Law Conference, 
12th May 1877, in Seventh Annual Report, 1877-8, p. 56). 

3 Bradford Union to Local Government Board, 13th September 1901, 
forwarding resolution: "That . . . the prohibition of non-residential relief 
to the widow and children of a person who may have died in the union of his 
settlement is harsh and totally out of keeping with the spirit of the times ; 
and that the provisions of the Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, 1844, 
and the Outdoor Relief Regulation Order, 1852, call for urgent revision." 
This received only an acknowledgment (Local Government Board to Bradford 
Union, 16th September 1901). 

* Decisions of the Load Government Board, 1903-4, by W. A. Casson, 1905, 
p. 26. 

^ If guardians wish to make use of the Margate Homes for Sick Paupers, 
they may do so (as the Central Authority expressly informed them in 1874) hy 
granting Twn-rcsident ?'c?ic/" (Circular of 1874 ; see Local Government Chronicle, 
23rd May 1874, p. 334). 

R 



242 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

relief. The Central Authority has not objected to the transfer 
of workhouse inmates, provided these do not actively protest, 
to country workhouses, there to be maintained as non-resident 
paupers.-' In one case, indeed, the Central Authority allowed 
a union to abolish its workhouse altogether (retaining only a 
casual ward), and approved "arrangements for the boarding- 
out of the indoor poor in the workhouses of other unions for 
a period not exceeding five years." ^ It is, therefore, not easy 
to determine how much is left of the policy of preventing 
non-resident relief as such. 

J. — The Workhouse 

We left the Central Authority in 1871, fully accepting 
the view that the workhouse was not merely a " test " which 
few only might be expected to pass or to endure for long, 
but a place of permanent or long -continued residence for 
whole classes of paupers. The workhouse population on 
1st January 1871 numbered, in fact, 168,073. The Central 
Authority, levertiDg to the proposals of the 1834 Eeport, had 
accordingly started out to differentiate the workhouse into 
separate institutions for particular classes (the children, the 
sick, and, in the Metropolis, also the imbeciles and idiots) ; 
to impose an altogether new standard of expensive structural 
efficiency on the boards of guardians ; to press incessantly for 
new buildings of approved pattern ; to increase the healthiness 
and comfort of the wards for the sick, the aged, and the 
children ; and to make the dietaries for these classes better 
adapted to their likings and their needs. " Those who enjoy 
the advantages of these institutions," had said the Central 
Authority's own medical officer in 1867, " are almost solely 
such as may fittingly receive them, viz. the aged and infirm, 
the destitute sick, and children. Workhouses are now 
asylums and infirmaries."^ There was, after 1871, no change 
and no arrest in this policy. * So far as the children, the sick, 

^ Local Government Chronicle, 15th October 1904, p. 1072. 

2 Local Government Board to Woodbridge Union, 26th April 1898 ; in 
Local Government Chronicle, 14th May 1898, p. 474. 

3 Dr. E. Smith, in Twentieth Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 
1867-8, p. 43. 

* We may gain an idea of the energy put into the provision of improved 
accommodation for the indoor poor since 1868, by the total capital expenditure 
sanctioned for workhouses, etc., by order or letter of the Central Authority, 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 243 

and the aged and infirm were concerned, we have already 
described its continuance and its progressive development. 
The improvement of the institutional provision for the pauper, 
by removing some of the objections to the indiscriminate 
general workhouse of 1835-65, fitted in, we may say, with 
the new crusade of the inspectorate against outdoor relief as 
such. That crusade was, however, for the first twenty years, 
pushed without regard to whether or not the particular boards 
of guardians had accepted the new idea of the specialised in- 
stitutional treatment for particular classes, or were still wedded 
to the indiscriminate common workhouse, which aimed at 
being "deterrent." Mr. Longley realised that the higher 
standard of comfort that was coming to be allowed to the 
aged, the sick, and the children in a general workhouse 
inevitably tended to prevent the necessary strictness and 
severity being applied to the able-bodied. The inspectorate 
accordingly strove in London to get specialised institutions 
for the able-bodied also, the result being the " Poplar test 
workhouse " that we have already described. 

In 1874 the Central Authority expressed its regret at 
the slow progress "towards the permanent classification in 
separate establishments of the various classes of indoor paupers, 
other than the sick .... We attach the utmost importance to 
this improvement of the classification of indoor paupers, which 
we believe to be a necessary condition of the maintenance 
of that discipline wliich lies at the root of an effective 
administration of indoor relief. This improvement, however, 
cannot be effected, except at an enormous and almost pro- 

The total so sanctioned during the thirty-four years, 1835-1868, including 
the initial provision of workhouses after 1834, was £7,079,126 (Tweuth-iirst 
Annual Report of the Poor Law Board, 1868-9, pp. 316-17), or no more than 
an average of £208,209 annually. For the thirty-seven years, 1869-1905, the 
corresponding sum was no less than £24,609,035 (Thirty-fifth Annual Report 
of the Local Government Board, 1905-6, p. 608), or an average of £665,109. 
To this must be added the expenditure of the Meti-opolitan Asylums Boards for 
Poor Law purposes only, sick asylums, district schools, etc., which in the 
first period of thirty-four years was only £571,401, and in the second period 
of thirty-seven years was £6,810,140 (Twenty-first Annual Report of the Poor 
Law Board, 1868-9, pp. 317-18 ; Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Local Govern- 
ment Board, 1905-6, p. 609). The total capital outlay sanctioned by the 
Central Authority for Poor Law purposes during the last thirty-seven years has, 
therefore, amounted, on an average, to nearly £1,000,000 annually, — the amount 
for 1905 being £789,373 — as compared with little over one-fifth of that sum 
in the first thirty-four years of the new Poor Law. 



244 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

hibitory cost, otherwise than by the combiuation of several 
boards of guardians for this purpose. Their existing work- 
houses would, in that event, become available for the separate 
accommodation of various classes of indoor paupers chargeable 
to the several combined areas. We are advised that in the 
existing state of the law it is doubtful whether such a com- 
bination can be effected otherwise than by the voluntary action 
of boards of guardians, which we trust may still take place, and 
the desirableness of which we shall continue to press upon 
the guardians." ^ No such combinations took place, and the 
Central Authority, baffled by the expense and apparently 
not prepared to adopt the heroic expedient of issuing orders 
merging several unions in one, abandoned the attempt to get 
classification by institutions, except with regard to the children 
and the sick. The able-bodied had to be dealt with in a 
general workhouse ; and we must note, for twenty years after 
1871, battling with the ameliorative efforts of the depart- 
mental architect, the departmental medical officer, and the 
departmental educational experts, on behalf of particular classes 
of inmates, an attempt to make the workhouse more 
" deterrent " to other classes of paupers. 

The most marked increase of severity was directed against 
the class of " ins and outs," called in America " revolvers," and 
it took the form of enlarged powers of detention. By an Act 
of 1871 the guardians were enabled to detain a pauper (other 
than a vagrant) who gave notice to quit, in any case for 
twenty-four hours ; if he had already discharged himself 
once or oftener within a month before giving the notice, 
for forty-eight hours ; and if he had so discharged himself 
more than twice within two months, for seventy-two hours.^ 
Under the Act of 1899^ a pauper may even be compulsorily 
detained for 168 hours (one week) "if he has, in the opinion 

1 Third Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. xxv-xxvi. 

2 Pauper Inmates Discharge and Regulation Act 1871, 34 & 35 Vic. c. 108, 
sec. 4. 

3 Poor Law Act, 62 & 63 Vic. c. 37, sec. 4. The guardians are not 
obliged to adopt these periods of detention, and if they do so, provision is made 
for cases of liardship by allowing them, or in the intervals between their 
meetings the visiting committee, to "exempt, either wholly or partially, any 
pauper from the operation of this section." The master of the workliouse, too, 
" may, if the board of guardians be not sitting or the visiting committee be 
not in attendance, discharge any pauper to whom this section shall apply before 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 245 

of the guardians, discharged himself frequently without 
sufficient reason." 

With regard to the able-bodied pauper, at any rate for 
the first fifteen years after 1871, there was to be no leniency. 
The spirit of the administration, whether of the workhouse 
or of the casual ward, was that subsequently expressed by 
Mr. Walter Long. "I would treat the wastrel and the 
vagabond, and the man who makes his wife and children 
paupers because of his own degraded habits, in a severe way, 
and I would make life a burden to him while he remains in 
the workhouse. I try to insist upon it that in the administra- 
tion of our workhouses we should make such men realise that 
if w6 are compelled to keep them out of the rates we will 
do it at some discomfort to them." ^ But it was not, in fact, 
found practicable to avoid improving the accommodation, even 
for the able-bodied. For them, as for all other inmates, the 
Central Authority insisted on a sufficient supply of blankets, 
sheets, bedroom furniture and conveniences. For them, too, the 
Central Authority insisted on such comforts as knives and 
forks to eat their meals with — in one case having a long 
tussle with a recalcitrant board of guardians on this point.^ 
The able-bodied shared, too, in the improvement of the cooking 
which took place, particularly after the general investigation 

the expiration of any such period as aforesaid, if any circumstances shall, 
in his opinion, require this to be done." 

If a pauper escapes from the workhouse during his detention, or while an 
inmate refuses or neglects to work or to observe the rules, he may be prosecuted 
as idle and disorderly under the Vagrancy Act of 1824 (5 Geo. IV. c. 83, sec. 3) ; 
for a repetition of the offence, or for destroying or damaging his own clothes 
or any property of the guardians, he becomes liable to the heavier penalty 
of the rogue and vagabond. The same penalties attach to the wilfully giving 
a false name or making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining relief, 
and this clause has been twice revised, so that since 1876 (Divided Parishes and 
Poor Law Amendment Act, 39 & 40 Vic. c. 61, sec. 44) any person who so 
obtained relief may be proceeded against at any time while he continues to 
receive it, and since 1882 (Casual Poor Act, 45 & 46 Vic. c. 36, sec. 5) the 
provision applies equally, whether the person attempts so to obtain relief for 
himself or for any one else. If a pauper escapes from a workhouse or asylum 
while suffering from bodily disease of an infectious or contagious nature, the 
justice convicting him of the offence may order that he be taken back to the 
workhouse or asylum and kept there till cured, or otherwise lawfully discharged, 
and that the warrant of commitment then be put in execution. 

1 Hansard, 9th May 1902, vol. 107, p. 1276. 

- Local Government Chronicle, 21st December 1889, p. 1051. This was 
with the Chester Board, which refused " to allow the workhouse inmates knives 
and forks at dinner except on Christmas Day." The Central Authority 
peremptorily required them to be provided for "all the inmates." 



246 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

which led to the new Dietaries Order of 1900. "This 
Order," said an inspector, " has certainly had two good 
incidental results. It has induced many boards of guardians 
to engage paid cooks, instead of employing chance inmates 
knowing nothing about the work . . . and the cooking 
appliances have in many cases been overhauled and improved. 
In some places they have been of the most rudimentary 
character." ^ The able-bodied may even get special privileges. 
Inmates employed on specially heavy work are permitted to 
receive an extra meal, as lunch. The discretion in this matter 
at first belonged to the medical officer, but now the guardians 
have power to order lunch as they think fit. In no case can 
any inmate claim it as a right, and it is not to be given merely 
on account of household work. Lunch, when allowed, is very 
plain, and may not include alcohol. The medical officer is 
to advise as to the degree of employment necessitating lunch, 
but the Central Authority suggests that "heavy work," 
earning lunch for able-bodied men and women, should be 
taken to mean " an average day's work with sustained 
exertion, e.g. corn -grinding, pumping, stone - breaking or 
crushing, shifting heavy goods, digging, scrubbing, washing, 
ironing, etc.," while heavy work for the aged and infirm (or 
light work for the able-bodied) is " employment without 
sustained exertion, e.g. wood -chopping and wood -bundling, 
hoeing or weeding, sorting light articles, sewing, etc." ^ Beer 
was particularly objected to. In 1877 the Hackney Board 
of Guardians, who wanted to give beer to two paupers 
who assisted the coachman, were told that they were 
" legally empowered to require from inmates such labour as 
might be required without having recourse to exceptional 
indulgences " — in this case the giving of beer — " which would 
only, in effect, vitiate the principle of the workhouse being a 
pauper test." ^ On the other hand, it appears that beer is 
habitually allowed to the able-bodied inmates of certain work- 
houses at certain times, in return for work. A number of 

^ Mr. Preston - Thomas's Report, in Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, 
p. 126. 

2 Circular on Workhouse Dietaries, 11th October 1900, in Thirtieth Annual 
Report, 1900-1, pp. 63-4. 

3 Local Government Board to Hackney Union, January 1877, in Local 
Government Chronicle, 13th January 1877, p. 31. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 247 

boards of guardians, having land to cultivate, have been 
permitted by Special Orders to " make to paupers employed 
in harvest work on land belonging to the guardians such 
allowance of food andj fermented liquor as may be necessary," 
without any direction of the medical officer.^ And when in 
1903 an auditor surcharged a workhouse master for beer 
allowed to certain inmates for work done, it was explained 
"that if such allowance was withheld, some of the paupers 
would leave the workhouse " — surely a strange threat to make 
to a Poor Law authority — and with others " difficulties would 
arise to get them to work." On this explanation the Central 
Authority (whilst upholding the auditor's decision in point of 
law) remitted the surcharge.^ Finally, it may be observed 
that the shelter of the workhouse was not to be denied to the 
able-bodied, even for bad conduct. The master must admit 
all persons who present the proper order, at whatever hour of 
the day or night. He may not refuse admission even to a 
man in a state of drunkenness.^ Nor could a man be punished 
for being admitted whilst suffering from delirium tremens} 

There is, thus, a marked change of tone after 1885 in 
workhouse administration, as in other branches of policy. 
This change of tone becomes specially marked in the Circular 
of January and the Memorandum of June 1895, in which 
the newly elected boards of guardians, chosen for the first 
time on a democratic franchise and without any high rating 
qualification, were specially instructed as to their adminis- 
trative duties. These authoritative documents breathe a spirit 
of humane consideration for the pauper inmates, without 
excepting the able-bodied, which Mr. Longley would, we think, 
not have regarded as " deterrent." The medical officer, rather 
than the master, was to advise the guardians on practically all 

1 Special Order to Wirrall Union, 11th June 1886; Sj^ecial Order to 
Drayton Union, 2nd September 1892. On the other hand, in 1901 the 
Keighley Guardians, for harvest work, were only allowed to give extra 
"food and drink other than fermented liquor" (Special Order to Keighley 
Union, 1st August 1901). 

2 Local Government Chronicle, 7th November 1903, p. 1091. 

3 Local Government Board to Hexham Union, April 1902 ; Local Government 
Chronicle, 19th April 1902, p. 413 ; Decisions of the Local Government Board, 
1902-3, by W. A. Casson, 1904, pp. 14, 23. 

* Local Government Chronicle, 13th June 1903, p. 577 ; Decisions of the Local 
Government Board, 1902-3, by W. A. Casson, 1904, p. 162. 



248 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the points on which the general regimen of the institution 
depended. The visiting committees were to take care that all 
the arrangements were in order ; they " should satisfy them- 
selves whether there is any structural defect in any part of 
the house ; whether painting or lime-washing is required ; 
whether the wards are clean and provided with such con- 
veniences as lockers or shelves, so that they may be kept in 
proper order ; whether there is any defect in the construction 
of the sanitary arrangements or in the general sewerage of the 
house ; whether the yards are defective as airing courts or 
places of recreation. The attention of the visiting committee 
should be carefully directed to the subject of ventilation, which 
should be effected by special means, apart from the usual 
means of doors, windows, and fireplaces, and should be so 
arranged that each ward may be brought into uninterrupted 
communication with the open air." ^ The classes of inmates 
are to be subdivided " with reference to their moral character 
or behaviour, or to their previous habits." ^ The employment 
to be provided is to be " unobjectionable in its character." ^ 
The clothing of inmates when absent on leave from the 
workhouse "should not be in any way distinctive or con- 
spicuous in character." * The visiting committees are to see 
that there is always enough underclothing in stock to allow 
all the inmates the requisite changes ; that " sufficient means 
for ensuring personal cleanliness are provided ; that a con- 
venient lavatory, as well as baths,^ with water laid on, and 
supplied with towels, soap, and combs, are accessible to each 
class." ^ "A piece of cocoa fibre matting or other material, 
or a mattress, should be placed between the bedstead and 
the bed. A sufficient supply of blankets, sheets, bedroom 
furniture and conveniences should be provided."'^ 

It remains only to mention the great improvement in the 

1 Memorandum of June 1895, in Twenty-fifth Annual Eeport, 1895-6, p. 121, 

2 Circular of 29tli January 1895, in ibid. p. 108. 

3 Memorandum of June 1895, in ibid. p. 122, 

* Circular of 29th January 1895, in ibid. p. 111. 

^ It had been ordered already in 1886 that, as regards the bath, every 
person ' ' should have the right to demand water which has not been previously 
used " (Minute of Instructions, Bathing of AVorkhouse Inmates, 2nd Febi'uary 
1886, in Sixteenth Annual Report, 1886-7, p. 1). 

^ Memorandum of June 1895, in Twenty-fifth Annual Report, 1895-6, p. 122. 

7 Ibid. p. 121. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 249 

workhouse dietary carried out, after prolonged inquiries, in 
the General Order of 1900.^ During the preceding twenty 
years there had been but little attention paid to the subject. 
The Central Authority had, in 1871, sanctioned the use of 
Australian tinned meat.^ It had also authorised in over a 
hundred unions fish dinners once a week.^ In 1892 it had 
drawn attention to the great variation among unions in the 
amount of alcoholic drink consumed.* In 1896 it had 
engaged in a prolonged struggle with the Chorlton Board of 
Guardians, and others elsewhere, who objected to the waste 
involved in supplying each inmate with a fixed and weighed- 
out allowance of bread, and who found by experiment that much 
less was used (and very much less thrown into the pig-trough) 
if the paupers were allowed to help themselves at meals with- 
out stint. The Central Authority long resisted this subversive 
proposal, and insisted on the General Consolidated Order of 
1847 being obeyed. When the rebellious boards persisted, 
the Central Authority gave way — not, however, amending its 
Orders, but permitting, by letter, the breach of them.^ An 
official Departmental Committee appointed to consider the 
matter advised the president that the injunction of the Order 
to weigh out a fixed ration to each pauper might with 
advantage be abandoned in the case of bread.*' But when, in 
1901, the Association of Poor Law Unions asked that the 
same principle should be applied to vegetables, the Central 
Authority consented only to bear the suggestion in mind.^ 

1 Workhouse Regulations (Dietaries and Accounts) Order, 1900, in 
Thirtieth Annual Report, 1900-1, pp. cvii. 62-72. 

2 Knight's Official Advertiser, 21st October 1871, p. 196. 

3 Thirteenth Annual Report, 1SS3-4, p. lii. 

^ Circular of 15th December 1892, in Twenty-second Annual Report, 1892-3, 

p. 43. 

" MS. archives, Chorlton Board of Guardians, 1895, etc.; Local Governinent 
Chronicle, 11th January 1896, p. 33 ; 8th February 1896, p. 121. 

6 This was also permitted by letter to the Grantham Board of Guardians 
(Local Government Board to Grantham Union, November 1901 ; Local Govern- 
ment Chronicle, 7th December 1901, p. 1209) ; and doubtless to others. The 
Central Authority had, in fact, intimated its willingness " to consider applica- 
tions " for a similar concession "from the guardians of large unions" (Local 
Government Board to Association of Poor Law Unions, 13th March 1901 ; 
Local Government Chronicle, 23rd March 1901, p. 295). 

7 Local Government Board to Association of Poor Law Unions, 13th March 
1901 ; Local Government Chronicle, 23rd March 1901, p. 295. We cannot find 
that, down to the present day, any such permission has been given. 



250 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

In 1900 the new Dietaries Order, as we have already 
mentioned, greatly increased the nutritive value, variety, and 
attractiveness of the diets allowed ; whilst the accompanying 
Memorandum formulated a whole code of suggestions for the 
improvement of the meals.^ 

K. — Emigkation 

For many years after 1871 there is no change, either of 
policy or of practice, to record as to emigration, beyond the 
continuance and slow growth of a tiny trickle of child emigra- 
tion to Canada. Down to recent years, at any rate, the 
Colonies expressed a decided objection to any Poor Law 
emigration of adults, being, as the Central Authority explained, 
"unwilling to run the risk of thus receiving persons of bad 
character, or those who, from weak health or other causes, 
might become burdensome to them," and "in consequence of 
representations which have been made by the Government of 
the United States " the Central Authority feels itself " precluded 
from sanctioning any expenditure from the poor rates in 
connection with the emigration to that country." ^ Neverthe- 
less, the Act of 1849 had not been repealed and the guardians 
were not debarred from emigrating, not paupers only, but any 
poor persons settled in their unions, whether in receipt of relief 
or not. The number so emigrated (apart from orphan or 
deserted children) continued, however, to be small.^ In 1905 
the Central Authority, under Mr. Long's presidency, in 
connection first with the relief of the unemployed by the 
guardians, and then under the Unemployed Workmen Act, 
revived the old policy of 1835-53 and expressly encouraged 
the emigration, at the public expense, of suitable persons, 
whether or not otherwise in receipt of aid from the rates.'* 

1 On no account are the paupers, if allowed "milk, "to be put off with 
"skim milk" or "scald milk" ; by a decision of 1903, "milk" means always 
new milk {Decisions of the Local Government Board, 1902-3, by W. A. Oasson, 
1904, p. 11. 

2 Memorandum on Emigration at the cost of the poor rate, in Local Oovern- 
onent Chronicle, 26th October 1889, pp. 884-5. 

3 In 1883-4 there were 296 persons emigrated ; in 1885-6, 133 persons ; 
between 1887 and 1898 the number fell from 301 to 12 ; it began to revive in 
1903, when it was 66 ; in 1905 it was 317 {see Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Twenty- 
sixth, Thirty-third and Thirty-fifth Annual Reports). 

* Mr. Long in House of Commons, 2nd March 1905 {Hansard, vol. 142, 
p. 184). 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 251 

Meanwhile, the emigration of Poor Law children to Canada 
continued, special applications for the sanction of the Central 
Authority having to be made in each case.^ The question of 
the superior position in which such children were thus placed, 
compared with those of the lowest grade of independent 
labourer, does not appear to have been raised. The emigra- 
tion and special supervision in Canada were the subject of 
repeated circulars and correspondence." The numbers of 
orphan and deserted children thus removed to superior 
conditions rose, from 100 or 200 annually, to 398 in 1903 
and 491 in 1905.^ 

L. — Eelief on Loan 

We note, without any explicit change of policy, a growing 
tendency to extend the sphere of relief on loan. It is in Mr. 
Corbett's Eeport of 1871 that we find a revival of the 
suggestion thrown out in 1840 that medical relief, in 
particular, might be given on loan ; and even that it should 
be " generally granted by way of loan," * without regard, it 
woi^.ld seem, to the probability of its being recovered. This 
opinion of the inspectorate, though (as we gather) constantly 
pressed on boards of guardians, did not, in 1877, receive the 
explicit endorsement of the Central Authority. An influential 
proposal to make all relief (and especially all medical relief) 
recoverable as if given on loan was definitely negatived. 
" The policy of the existing law," it was declared, " is that the 
question whether or not relief shall be granted on loan, or, in 
other words, whether it shall be recoverable at a future time, 
is to be determined by a consideration of the actual circum- 
stances existing at the time the relief is granted, and it would 
be at variance with that policy if every recipient of relief 
were to feel that after he again succeeded in obtaining 
employment any savings he might be able to put by would be 

1 Memorandum on Emigration, in Local Government Chronicle, 26th 
October 1889, p. 885. 

2 Memorandum of April 1883 ; Thirteenth Annual Report, 1883-4, pp. 
xlvii.-xlix. 32-3; Fifteenth Annual Report, 1885-6, pp. xxxvi. -xxxvii. 61-5; 
Thuty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. cxxxv. 

3 Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, p. 587. 

* Mr. Corbett's Report of 10th August 1871. Mr. Longley repeated the 
suggestion (Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 156). 



252 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

liable for the repayment of the relief which he might have 
received." ^ This seems to be the latest declaration of policy. 
There is a particular difficulty in the way of granting medical 
relief on loan when the medical officer is paid by salary, which 
does not arise when he is paid by fee — namely, that of fixing 
the amount to be recovered. The Central Authority suggested 
that the difficulty might perhaps be met by paying him partly 
by fee and partly by salary, but it expressed no decided views 
as to either the practicability or the expediency of such a 
course.^ 

Moreover, the Central Authority held that " the relieving 
officer has no power to compel any applicant to accept relief 
on loan. If, therefore, in a case of sudden or urgent necessity 
a person refuses to accept the offer of medical relief upon the 
condition that the cost thereof be repaid, the Board consider 
that the relieving officer would not be exempt from all further 
responsibility in the case, unless he had reason to believe that 
the applicant was in a position to procure the requisite medical 
aid without assistance from the poor rate."^ When it was 
laid down in 1876 that no relief to a lunatic could be 
recovered unless and until declared to be on loan, it was 
remarked that " it will be incumbent upon the guardians . . . 
to examine each case . , to consider all its circumstances, 
and not to declare the relief to be given on loan, until they are 
"^ satisfied that the circumstances will justify such a declaration." 
Nor was it permissible to fix the value of medical relief at 
an arbitrary sum. "There are great practical difficulties," 
concludes the Central Authority in 1886, "in the way of 
determining the value of such relief," for the purpose of 
recovering it when made on loan.* 

Thus, it can perhaps not fairly be said that the inspectors' 
policy of using the power of granting relief on loan as a 
means of deterring applicants from applying for or accepting 
it, has received formal endorsement by the Central Authority. 
On the other hand, unions which have adopted the policy of 

^ Letter to Chairman of the Central Poor Law Conference, 12th May 1877, 
in Seventh Annual Report, p. 54. 

2 Ihid. 

3 Selections from the Correspondence of the Local Government Board, vol. ii. 
1880, pp. 70, 110. 

* Ihid. vol. i. 1880, p. 15 ; ihid. vol. iii. 1888, p. 271. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 253 

systematically granting all medical relief on loan, irrespective 
of the applicant's circumstances, have — so far as we can 
discover — not been reproved or criticised by the Central 
Authority for what is, apparently, a breach of its instructions. 
On a complaint being made of this practice, the Bradfield 
Board of Guardians contended that it was justified ; and their 
contention was apparently upheld.-^ And the practice of the 
Bristol Board of Guardians of granting all outdoor relief on 
loan, irrespective of the applicant's circumstances, or even of 
his actual acceptance of it as a loan, has not been stopped. 
Moreover, by the Feeding of School Children Order, the 
Central Authority (in apparent contradiction of its decision in 
1877) directed such relief to be given on loan irrespective 
of the father's circumstances.^ 



M. — Co-operation with Voluntary Agencies 

We left Mr. Goschen and the Poor Law Board much 
impressed with the value of systematic and organised co- 
operation with voluntary organisations in order to avoid the 
combination of outdoor relief with any other source of income. 
In 1873 we find an interesting report by Miss Octavia Hill 
on official and voluntary agencies in administering relief, 
which the Central Authority published and commended.^ 
But, in spite of Mr. Goschen, the boards of guardians by no 
means invariably accepted the doctrine of never giving 
outdoor relief in aid of other pecuniary resources. The 
Brixworth Guardians, indeed, as part of their strict policy, 
refused to accord any favour to the person having an allowance 
from a friendly society ; but even they seem to have made up 
from the poor rate the amount necessary for full maintenance. 
Most other boards of guardians, however, as the Central 

1 Local Government Board to Bradfield Union, February 1893 ; Bradfield 
Union to Local Government Board, 21st March 1893 ; MS. archives, Bradfield 
Board of Guardians ; The Better Administration of the Poor Law, by Sir. W. 
Cliance, 1895, pp. 123-4. 

2 General Order of 26th April 1905, in Thirty-fifth Annual Report, 1905-6, 
pp. 321-2. 

3 Third Annual Report, 1873-4, pp. 126-30. 



254 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Authority was officially informed in 1873, reckoned, by a 
rough compromise, the friendly society pay at half its amount,^ 
in flat contradiction of the dictum of the Central Authority 
of 1840 and 1870.^ This course was incidentally reproved 
by the Central Authority in 1888. "The guardians," it was 
stated, " are bound to take into consideration all the means of 
support possessed by the applicant ; . . . if . . . the allowance 
from the club or society appears to the guardians to be 
inadequate to meet all the requirements of the case, they 
should take such allowance into account in determining what 
amount of relief is required to relieve the destitution of the 
applicant." ^ It was, however, apparently found impracticable 
to take any official action; and there is, until 1894, scarcely 
any later mention of the subject.* The policy of " all or 
nothing," which Mr. Goschen had suggested as a counsel of 
perfection, was, in fact, not persisted in by the Local Govern- 
ment Board. The practice of making up insufficient incomes, 
whether derived from charity, from property or friendly 
society allowance or annuity, or even (in the case of women) 
from earnings, continued ; not infrequently with the explicit 
sanction of the Central Authority.^ In 1894 the policy of 
supplementing other resources received a partial sanction from 
Parliament. By the Outdoor Eelief Friendly Societies Act 
1894, boards of guardians were legally empowered, if they 
thought fit, to ignore the fact that an applicant for relief had 
a friendly society allowance.^ This gave a legal sanction to 
the usual compromise of counting such an allowance at half 
its value, and thus giving the thrifty person half the advantage 

1 Mr. Culley's Report, in Third Annual Report, 1873-4, p. 75. 

2 Minutes of Poor Law Commissioners, 1840 ; Poor Law Board to Mr. R. 
H. Paget, M.P., 5th January 1870, in Twenty-second Annual Report of the 
Poor Law Board, 1869-70, pp. 108-11. 

3 Selections frmn the Correspondenice of the Local Government Board, vol. iii. 
1888, p. 77. 

* Once or twice it is mentioned by the inspectors ; e.g. by Mr. Baldwyn 
Fleming in 1889 (Eighteenth Annual Report of the Local Government Board, 
1888-9, p. 115), and again in 1891 (Twentieth Annual Report, 1890-1, p. 225). 

^ Thus, in 1901, sanction was obtained by the Bradford Guardians for the 
grant of non-resident relief in certain specific cases into which they had made 
careful inquiry. Among the cases thus accidentally reported for sanction, 
because they happened to be those of "non-resident paupers," were those of 
grants of 2s. to 6s. a week, in supplement of family incomes of 7s. to 26s, 
(Bradford Union to Local Government Board, 30th November 1901 ; MS. 
archives, Bradford Board of Guardians). ^ 57 & 58 Vic. c 25. 



THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD 255 

of his tbiift. It is difficult to see how the case of a person 
having a small friendly society allowance could be logically 
distinguished from that of a person having other means or 
sources of income insufficient to maintain him. Presently the 
Central Authority expressly extended the new doctrine to 
other forms of saving. In 1903 it declared that relief in 
supplement of property (in case of sickness or infirmity of the 
applicant or any dependent) was lawful. In the case of an 
applicant actually possessing property, "if the guardians are 
satisfied, after due inquiry, that the means possessed by an 
applicant are insufficient to support himself and family, they 
are empowered, subject to the regulations in force, to grant 
such relief as will meet the necessities of the case." ^ In the 
following year Parliament followed suit by expressly enacting 
that boards of guardians should not under any circumstances 
take into consideration any friendly society allowance up to 
5s. a week.^ There is, accordingly, in 1907 reported to be 
much outdoor relief avowedly given in supplement of charitable 
aid and other sources of income. 

Tliis kind of co-operation between voluntary agencies and 
the Poor Law, in the pecuniary relief of the same individual, 
is, as we need hardly point out, in direct contravention of the 
principle enunciated by Mr. Goschen in 1869. Nothing, in 
fact, has been done since Mr. Goschen's Circular that is even 
in the direction, so far as domiciliary relief is concerned, of the 
entire allocation of particular cases to one kind of organised 
aid or the other. On the other hand, there has been, since 
1871, an almost continuous encouragement of another kind of 
co-operation, namely, the use, by the Poor Law Authority, of 
institutions under voluntary management for the maintenance 
and treatment of particular classes of paupers, at the expense, 
wholly or partially, of the poor rates. The number of paupers 
who are technically in receipt of outdoor relief, but who are, 
in fact, maintained in specialised voluntary institutions, is 
always increasing. Certified schools for children of all 
denominations, and with all kinds of defects ; certified 
sanatoria and convalescent homes for the sick ; voluntary 

1 Local Government Board decision in Local Government Chronicle, 6th June 
1903, p. 552. 

2 4 Edw. VII. c. 32, sec. 1 (Outdoor Relief Friendly Societies Act 1904). 



256 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

hospitals of all kinds and sorts ; ^ industrial and reformatory 
institutions for the able-bodied ; asylums for the crippled and 
the epileptic, and the various kinds of " Farm Colonies " are 
all now admitted as laudable experiments, expressly authorised, 
systematically inspected, and extensively subsidised, in the 
curative treatment of destitute persons. We may infer that 
it is in institutional treatment of this sort rather than in 
domiciliary relief that the Central Authority maintains the 
principle of co-operation with voluntary agencies that Mr. 
Goschen laid down. 

^ It was expressly held that boards of guardians may, if they think fit, pay 
for the maintenance of paupers in private hospitals, including "caution money" 
if demanded {Selections from the Corresjpondence of the Local Government Boards 
vol. ii. 1883, p. 165). 



CHAPTER V 

THE PRINCIPLES OF 1907 

It is unnecessary to attempt to summarise the policy of 
the Central Authority from 1847 to 1907, in the mauner 
adopted for the inaugural period, 1835 to 1847. The policy 
of the last sixty years is so complicated and diversified that 
we could hardly compress it further than is already done in 
the foregoing analysis, without making it unintelligible. We 
propose, therefore, to end this report by examining to what 
extent, in our opinion, the Central Authority has, in 1907, 
departed from "the principles of 1834"; to what extent it 
has evolved other methods of dealing with its problem — 
methods based on principles that were neither advocated nor 
condemned, because they were not thought of, by the little 
group of ardent doctrinaires who conceived and carried out 
the reforms of the new Poor Law ; and, finally, to what 
extent it has left the local authorities without guidance as 
to which of the competing principles they should adopt in 
their everyday task of relieving the destitute. 

A. — The Depaktukes fkom the Pkinciples of 1834 

The principles of the 1834 Eeport, to which different people 
will assign different degrees of scope or importance, are, as we 
have shown, three in number. We will deal successively 
with the Principle of National Uniformity, the Principle of 
Less Eligibility, and the " Workhouse System." 

(i.) The Principle of National Uniformity 

The Principle of National Uniformity — that is, of identity 
of treatment of each class of destitute persons from one end 

257 s 



258 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of the kingdom to the other — for the purpose of reducing the 
" perpetual shifting " from parish to parish, of preventing dis- 
content, and of bringing the parochial management effectually 
under central control, is, in 1907, with one notable exception, 
in practice abandoned. Uniform national treatment is to-day 
obligatory with regard to one class only of destitute persons, 
the wayfarers or vagrants. Whatever may be the diversity 
of practice amongst boards of guardians, the policy of the 
Central Authority for the vagrant is, uniformly throughout 
the kingdom and without exception, indoor relief, in a speci- 
ally appropriated ward, with prescribed " deterrent " treatment 
as regards diet, task and detention. For the able-bodied 
male person, seeking relief in his own parish — the very 
class for whom the 1834 Eeport most passionately postulated 
national uniformity of treatment — there is, in 1907, no 
uniform policy. The universal " offer of the House " was 
apparently found to be impracticable even in the first decade ; 
and by 1852 the Central Authority had settled down to the 
division of England and Wales into two geographical regions, 
in one of which outdoor relief to the able-bodied male 
applicant is (with minor exceptions) prohibited, whilst in the 
other region boards of guardians are not only permitted, but 
even advised, to meet the recurring times of distress, and of 
pressure on the workhouse accommodation, by the grant of 
outdoor relief against a task of work. With regard to that 
section of the class of able-bodied who may be intended by 
the indefinite term "unemployed," there is to-day, under the 
Unemployed Workmen Act 1905, a third alternative policy, 
in itself capable of endless variety from place to place, with 
which we shall have to deal under the head of principles new 
since 1834. -m 

Less intelligible is the existing diversity of policy of the 
Central Authority in 1907 with regard to able-bodied women. 
In all the unions in one of the geographical regions into 
which the country is divided, an able-bodied woman, whether 
spinster, wife or widow, can be granted maintenance in her 
own home. In all the unions of the other region, such 
women, unless included in certain exceptions, can be relieved 
only in the workhouse. 

With regard to the non-able-bodied classes — the children, 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igoy 259 

the sick and the aged — who now comprise four-fifths of the 
whole pauperism, it is hardly too much to say that the pre- 
cisely opposite principle has been adopted, that of permitting 
experimental variations by the 646 boards of guardians. 
The maintenance of children in a general workhouse, in 
" barrack schools," in cottage homes, in scattered homes, in 
certified schools or institutions, in families within the union, 
in families outside the union, with their relatives on a 
boarding -out allowance or with their own parents on outdoor 
relief — at a cost to the rates varying from Is. up to more than 
20s. per head per week — are all policies actually in operation 
in one union or another, to the knowledge and with the 
permission of the Central Authority. No one of them is 
prescribed or universally recommended to the exclusion of the 
others. The same may be said of the policy for the sick. 
Workhouse sick wards, separate infirmaries of general 
character, specialised hospitals and sanatoria for particular 
diseases, subsidies to voluntary institutions, dispensaries, and 
domiciliary treatment, with or without nurses, are among the 
different ways of relieving the destitute sick which different 
boards of guardians are authorised to adopt, according to their 
fancies or to the circumstances of their unions. The aged are 
less open to experimental variations, but even here we find 
the " workhouse test," the comfortable aged ward, the special 
"almshouses" for the well-conducted, and the grant of 
adequate outdoor relief to every " deserving " person, all 
recommended to different boards of guardians, simultaneously 
or alternately, by order, letter, or inspector's advice. 

A minor uniformity insisted on in the 1834 Eeport 
concerned the grant of outdoor relief. The Eeport emphati- 
cally pointed out that, in the award of outdoor relief, any 
attempt to discriminate according to merit was dangerous and 
likely to lead to fraud. This was promptly given up as 
regards women in the policy of discriminating between chaste 
and unchaste. With regard to the aged, the policy of non- 
discrimination according to merit or character has not only 
been abandoned by the Central Authority, but even expressly 
condemned, boards of guardians being now directed to give 
adequate outdoor relief to all deserving aged persons. The 
Unemployed Workmen Act carries this contrary policy of 



26o ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

discrimination according to merit into the class of the able- 
bodied. Only with regard to the wayfarer does the Central 
Authority still adhere to the policy of an undiscriminating 
uniform refusal of outdoor relief to all applicants irrespective 
of merit. 



(ii.) The Principle of Less Eligibility 

The Principle of " Less Eligibility " — that is, that the 
condition of the pauper should be " less eligible " than that of 
the lowest grade of independent labourer — (though, as we have 
shown, asserted explicitly in the 1834 Eeport only of the 
able-bodied) is often regarded as the root principle of the 
reforms of 1834, The Central Authority in 1907 applies 
this principle unreservedly to one class only, the wayfarers or 
vagrants. In respect of this class the application of the 
principle goes even further than was contemplated in 1834. 
As will be remembered, the Eeport of 1834 recommended that 
the wayfarer should be regarded merely as an able-bodied 
person, and offered maintenance in the workhouse, without 
compulsory detention or worse conditions than were afforded 
to other inmates. In 1907 the Central Authority orders the 
wayfarer, without discrimination of character or conduct, to be 
relieved only in a casual ward, under a regimen not only 
inferior to that of the able-bodied ward of the workhouse, but 
also, in food and amenity of accommodation, distinctly less 
eligible than the condition of the poorest independent labourer. 
Moreover, even this " less eligible " relief is accompanied by 
compulsory detention and a task of hard labour of monotonous 
and disagreeable character. 

Exactly to what extent the policy of the Central Authority 
of to-day has avowedly departed from the Principle of Less 
Eligibility with regard to other sections of the able-bodied 
class it is difficult, in the absence of explicit statement, to 
determine. According to the Statutes, Orders, and Circulars 
now promulgated by the Central Authority, the able-bodied 
(not being wayfarers) may be relieved in three main ways, 
among which the local authority over a large part of England 
and Wales is left free choice, viz.: — (a) maintenance in the 
workhouse, (&) outdoor relief with a labour test, and (c). 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igoj 261 

employment for wages ^ by the distress committee. To take 
first the maintenance in the workhouse, any attempt to 
restrict, either in quantity or quality, the food, warmth, 
accommodation, leisure or rest afforded by the workhouse down 
to the standard in practice attained by the lowest grade of 
independent wage-earners has long since been abandoned. It 
has, in fact, been discovered that the independent labourers of 
the lowest grade do not get enough food, warmth or rest 
to maintain themselves and their families continuously in 
health ; whereas the able-bodied inmate of the workhouse is 
supplied, by the peremptory directions of the Central Authority, 
up to a standard which fully equals — if it does not exceed — 
the requirements of physiological efficiency. 

It is sometimes said that, to counterbalance this excess of 
" eligibility," the Central Authority maintains the policy which 
we have described as starving the will and intelligence of the 
workhouse inmates, by witholding all recreation, all exercise 
of choice or initiative, all responsibility and all training for 
independent life. But the Central Authority has latterly 
permitted various experimental departures from this policy 
of enforced blank -mindedness characteristic of the General 
Consolidated Order of 1847. It has permitted, in one union 
or another, a policy (as at Lambeth) of letting the able-bodied 
men go out at intervals (without taking out their dependents), 
in order to look for work ; or (as at Whitechapel) the 
engagement of a salaried "mental trainer" to organise their 
leisure in an intellectual way; and even (as at Poplar) the 
provision (under the name of a temporary workhouse) of a 
farm in the country, where they are engaged, on short hours 
and high diet, in the ordinary avocations of an- agricultural 
labourer — their families being meanwhile maintained in their 
own home:^. 

But maintenance in the workhouse can no longer be said 
to be the policy imposed by the Central Authority even for 
the able-bodied. In all the great centres of population, and in 
other unions in times of pressure, it is the explicit policy of 
the Central Authority, rather than extend the Outdoor Belief 
Prohibitory Order, and enlarge the workhouses, to allow the 
maintenance at home of the able-bodied man and his 

' Or migration or emigration. 



262 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

dependents, in return for a task of work by the man only.^ 
This labour test at no date involved daily hours of work equal 
to those of the lowest grade of independent labourer, but 
the task set was, until recent years, of a monotonous and 
unpleasant character. Since 1886, however, the task singled 
out for recommendation by the Central Authority is nothing 
more unpleasant than spade labour in field or garden, which 
forms the recreation of many a wage-earner. 

What remained in the way of " less eligibility " was, until 
1905, the stigma of "pauperism," involving electoral disquali- 
fication, and chargeability to relatives. Since the Unemployed 
Workmen Act this has been wholly removed, in respect of the 
section of the able-bodied whose destitution is relieved by the 
distress committee. In their case, indeed, there is now not 
even the suggestion, which Mr. Chamberlain had made in 
1886, that the amount paid in return for their work should be 
less than the current rate of wages. 

With regard to all other classes except the able-bodied 
men and their dependents,^ the Central Authority has, de facto, 
abandoned the Principle of Less Eligibility. It prescribes 
merely a policy of " adequacy " of maintenance according to the 
actual requirements of each case, viewed from the standpoint 
of modern physiology, irrespective of whether the maintenance 
is at home or in an institution. This, it is clear, is much 
above the standard attained by the lowest grade of 
independent labourer. When this maintenance is given at 
home (as it is with the explicit permission of the Central 
Authority in the majority of cases) it is not accompanied by 
any other drawback than the "stigma of pauperism." In 
respect of the extensive classes of the sick and the children, 
the Central Authority may even be said to have avowedly 
adopted a diametrically opposite policy to that of " less 
eligibility," namely, the principle of substituting for relief the 
best possible " treatment," with the intention of making these 
paupers actually more fit than the lowest grade of independent 
labourer. And, short of entire removal out of the Poor Law 
(as has actually been done with the able-bodied who are 

1 Either under the Outdoor Relief Regulation Order, or under a Labour 
Test Order. 

2 In unions under the Prohibitory Order, also able-bodied single women. 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igo? 263 

" unemployed," the children in industrial schools, and the 
patients of the Public Health Department), everything possible 
has been done to remove the " stigma of pauperism " from the 
children in Poor Law institutions and from the recipients of 
medical relief. 



(iii.) Tlie WorJchouse System 

The principle commonly known as "the Workhouse System" 
— the complete substitution of " indoor " for " outdoor " relief — 
was, as we have shown, no part of the recommendations of the 
1834 Report for any but the able-bodied. It was, however, 
adopted by the strictest of the reformers of 1834-47, and 
again by those of 1871-85, as the only effective method of 
applying the Principle of Less Eligibility and of reducing 
pauperism. The workhouse, on this principle, was not to be 
regarded as a place of long-continued residence, still less as 
an institution for beneficial treatment, but primarily (if not 
exclusively) as a " test of destitution," that is, as a means of 
affording the actual necessities of existence under conditions so 
deterrent that the pauper would rather prefer to maintain 
himself independently than accept the relief so offered. This 
is still the policy of the Central Authority, but only for one 
class of paupers, the wayfarers or vagrants. As we have seen, 
there are, in 1907, alternative methods of relief for the other 
classes, preferred by the Central Authority. In the case of 
the aged, the Central Authority explicitly lays it down that 
the " deserving " applicants ought not even to be urged to enter 
the workhouse, and ought to be given outdoor relief adequate 
for their maintenance in their own homes. In the case of 
the able-bodied, the " respectable " applicant is to be referred 
to the distress committee, outside the Poor Law altogether; 
whilst in periods of unemployment the Central Authority 
permits the outdoor relief of the less respectable destitute men 
against a labour test. With regard to the sick and children, 
the very idea of a deterrent workhouse has disappeared, and 
the policy is to afford them "treatment" (including main- 
tenance wherever required), either in their own homes, or in 
other people's homes, or in institutions, in the manner, and to 
the degree, calculated to promote their utmost efficiency. 



264 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

B. — New Peinciples unknown in 1834 

In the policy of the Central Authority, as we find it in 
1907 in the statutes, orders and circulars in force, there are 
discoverable three separate principles, which were neither 
advocated nor condemned in the 1834 Eeport, because they 
were either unknown, or not considered relevant to the relief 
of the destitute. These are the Principle of Curative Treat- 
ment, the Principle of Universal Provision, and the Principle 
of Compulsion. 

(i.) The, Principle of Curative, Treatment 

The Principle of Curative Treatment — that is, of bringing 
about in the applicant actual physical or mental improvement, 
so as to render him positively more fit than if he had abstained 
from applying for relief — may be considered the direct 
opposite of the Principle of Less Eligibility. It might, indeed, 
be termed the Principle of Greater Eligibility. This principle 
has been gradually evolved by the Central Authority in the 
course of the last fifty or sixty years ; but it has characterised 
in particular the administration of the Local Government 
Board ever since its establishment in 1871. "We see it most 
thoroughly applied to the sick and the children ; though not 
yet to all sections even of these classes. 

With regard to the sick, the policy since 1865 has been 
to get them out of the general workhouse, and to get 
established, for their treatment, separate institutions as well 
built, as well equipped, and professionally as well staffed as 
the most efficient hospitals. The whole object is to cure the 
patients in the most rapid and thorough fashion. The very 
idea of " deterring " them from entrance has been avowedly 
discarded. Hence, in those unions in which the policy of the 
Central Authority has been thoroughly carried out, and where 
the poorer classes have (but for the Poor Law) to rely on their 
own independent exertions, those of them who, in illness, 
accept Poor Law relief, find their condition in every way more 
eligible than those who do not apply for it, or who are refused 
it because they are deemed " not destitute." 

The Principle of Curative Treatment has not been so 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igo7 265 

consistently and universally pressed on local authorities in 
the case of outdoor medical relief. The Central Authority is 
" desirous of encouraging " the provision of professional trained 
nursing for those cases of sickness treated at home. But it 
has not yet seen its way to make (as in the Poor Law infirmary 
or workhouse sick ward) the provision of even one trained 
nurse compulsory in every union. With regard to the supply 
of drugs, etc., of standard quality, and to the free accessibility 
of medical advice at definite hours, it is only in the Metropohs 
that the Central Authority has pressed on boards of guardians 
the universal provision of well-equipped and well- staffed 
dispensaries ; though these have, with the willing sanction 
of the Central Authority, been copied in a few other towns. 
On the other hand, the Principle of Curative Treatment may 
be said^ to have been accepted all over~the country, though 
perhaps not consistently enforced, in the free supply of 
expensive drugs and surgical appliances, in the provision for 
difficult operations, and generally in the rising standard of 
qualification, attendance and remuneration expected for the 
district medical officers charged with the care of such of the 
sick paupers as are treated in their own homes. In all these 
respects, these patients are admittedly under better conditions 
than those who are just above the locally accepted definition 
of destitution. This is emphasised by the absence in 1907 
of any political disqualification. 

The application to the children of what we have called the 
"Principle of Curative Treatment" is of older date than its 
application to the sick — dating, indeed, from E. Carleton 
Tufnell's Eeport of 1841. In all the development from the 
earliest " district school " to the most up-to-date " cottage 
home," the whole policy of the Central Authority has been to 
provide the most efficient education for the child, so that it 
shaU be positively more able to cope with the battle of life 
and less likely to fall again into the ranks of pauperism than 
the child of the lowest grade of independent labourer. In the 
Poor Law institutions for children sanctioned in recent years, 
the Principle of Greater Eligibility has been carried so far as 
to result in the provision, for the pauper child, of physical 
training, mental education, and prolonged supervisory care, 
extending over more years of life, and costing more per head 



266 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

per annum, than the corresponding provision usually made for 
children even of the lower middle class. In the same way, 
the Central Authority sanctions, even if it does not overtly 
encourage, the bestowal of elaborate and costly care and 
supervision in the launching into life of some sections of 
Poor Law children — going even so far as occasionally to 
sanction premiums, residential homes, or a " rate in aid " of their 
insufficient earnings as apprentices in skilled trades. But 
though the Principle of Curative Treatment has been carried 
to a high pitch in respect of some sections of the child pauper 
population, it has been scarcely at all applied to other sections. 
It is, indeed, not too much to say that, with regard to the 
children on outdoor relief, the contrary Principle of Less 
Eligibility is still the governing policy. An investigation 
into their condition might show that a large proportion of 
them, upon the relief afforded, are more likely to fall into 
disease, vice or pauperism than the average child of the 
lowest grade of independent labourer. For these children, the 
policy of the Central Authority does not include either 
supervision or systematic medical inspection, either the 
protection of the child's leisure from industrial work or even 
any miniipum provision for its maintenance, let alone any 
selection of a suitable skilled occupation for it or any 
subsidised apprenticeship. All that the Central Authority 
does for these 170,000 pauper children is to ask that they 
should be vaccinated and should be in regular attendance at 
a public elementary school — advantages which they share with 
the non-pauper children. 

We do not find that the Principle of Curative Treatment 
has been deliberately applied to the other classes of paupers. 
To the aged, curative treatment is, indeed, scarcely applicable, 
but it is interesting to trace, in the policy of expressly direct- 
ing the grant of adequate outdoor relief to the deserving aged, 
combined with the statutory requirement that a friendly society 
allowance is not to be taken into account in such grant, a sort 
of Principle of Greater Eligibility. With regard to the able- 
bodied, there is a certain premonition of the Principle of 
Curative Treatment in the farm colony as well as in the 
" mental instructor " sanctioned for the able;]x> died.-ward o f 
the workhouse. Indeed, there is only one class of paupers 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igoj 267 

to which the Central Authority has rigidly refused to apply 
this new principle. From the casual ward every trace of 
curative treatment has been eliminated, and the Principle of 
Less Eligibility rigidly adhered to. 

(ii.) The, Frinci'pU of Universal Provision 

But what is most strikingly new since 1834 in the policy 
of the Central Authority is the Principle of Universal Provision, 
that is, the provision by the State of particular services for all • 
who will accept them, irrespective of " destitution " or inability 
to provide the services independently.. We see this principle 
in most municipal action, but it impinges on the work of the 
Poor Law authorities most directly in such services as vaccina- 
tion, sanitation, and education. Prom the standpoint of the 
Poor Law critic, this principle avoids the characteristic Poor 
Law dilemma, and escapes alike the horn of making the con- 
dition of the patient so bad as to be injurious to him, and that 
of making it better than the lot of the lowest grade of ^ 
independent labourer. In providing vaccination, sanitation,"/" 
and education — to say nothing of parks, museums, and 
libraries — indiscriminately for every one who is ready to accept 
them,^ the State does nothing to diminish the inequality off^ 
condition between the thrifty and the unthrifty — for it is a^ 
simple axiom that the addition of equals to unequals produces ' 
unequals — whilst it raises the standard of living of all. The' 
most thrifty of artisans who discovers a public elementary 
school freely provided for his own children, does, not find his 
advantage over his unthrifty neighbour thereby in the smallest 
degree diminished. It is this consideration which justifies the 
provision of municipal hospitals, and which, presumably, led 
the Central Authority of 1870 (under Mr. Goschen) to dwell 
upon the expediency of " free jmedicijie- to the poorer classes 
generally, as distinguished from actual paupers, and perfect 
accessibility to medical advice at aU times under thorough 
organisation." ^ It is this principle that lies at the base of all 
schemes of non-contributory pensions to be given to persons 

1 It is interesting to note that the Poor Law provision of emigration was 
always of this nature. The guardians were authorised to emigrate poor persons, 
whether in receipt of relief or not. 

2 Twenty-second Annual Report of Poor Law Board, 1869-70, p. lii. 



268 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

on reaching a certain age. The controlUng limits of the 
application of this Principle of Universal Provision in the 
mind of the Central Authority seem to have been, first, the 
consideration whether it is in the public interest desirable 
that the service in question should be as widely as possible 
enjoyed ; and secondly, the consideration whether, as a matter 
of fact, such universal provision is found to diminish human 
productiveness or mental development. 

With regard to vaccination, sanitation, and education, the 
policy of the Central Authority has long been based upon the 
Principle of Universal Provision. In its application to the 
pauper population, we need only refer particularly to the 
problem of the Poor Law child. As we have already stated, 
the Education Acts of 1870-1903 have enabled the Poor Law 
authorities to escape, in respect of mental training during 
school age, from the embarrassing dilemma of either placing 
the pauper child in a position of vantage, or of deliberately 
bringing up a couple of hundred thousand children in a state 
incompatible with future citizenship. In respect of everything 
beyond vaccination, sanitation, and education — together with 
hospitals in some places for some kinds of illness — the dilemma 
remains. 

(iii.) The Principle of Compulsion 

. The Principle of Compulsion — in the sense of treating an 
i individual in the way that the community deems best, whether 
die likes it or not — is, of course, as old as the lazarhouse, 
"Bedlam," and the gaol. Such compulsory treatment may 
have for its object deterrent-^xunishmenX reformation^ and 
cure, or mere isolation from the world. In all three aspects 
this principle now forms an integral part of the policy of the 
Central Authority for one or other classes of destitute persons. 
It is interesting to ^ote that, although the Principle of 
Compulsion played a large part in the Elizabethan Poor Law, 
to which the 1834 Report purported to revert, it formed no 
part of " the principles of 1834." It did not appear in any 
of the recommendations of the Eeport. What underlay the 
whole scheme of 1834 was the very opposite to compulsion. 
Xo power was given to any Poor Law authority — apart from 
the case of dangerous lunacy — to detain any pauper against 



THE PRINCIPLES OF IQ07 269 

his will, for any purpose whatsoever. Every inmate of the / 
workhouse was to be free to discharge himself at the shortest ( 
notice compatible with the convenience of the establishment, i 
The vagrant was to be at liberty to leave as early in the 
morning as he chose after his night's lodging. The sick 
person, even if dangerous to others, or on the point of death, 
was to be permitted to leave the shelter of the workhouse, if 
he chose, with no more restraint than a warning from the 
medical officer. It was even open to doubt whether a board 
of guardians could legally detain the youngest orphan infant 
struggling to be free. The whole intention of the 1834^ 
Eeport was, in fact, to make the pauper of any age feel that 
he was at all times an unwelcome guest. 

To-day we see the Central Authority making use of the ~~ 
Principle of Compulsion as part of its policy towards every 
class,^ except the^ deserving healthy^ aged. The wayfarer, what- 
ever his character or conduct, is to be compulsorily detained, 
under penal conditions, for twenty-four hours, or, in certain 
cases, much longer, in order to deter him from ever again 
applying for a night's lodging. The able-bodied man or 
woman in the workhouse is, under certain circumstances, 
to be compulsorily detained, for a day, or even a week, in 
order to deter him or her from passing too frequently " in and 
out." Quite different are the objects, isolation from the public 
and their own cure, with which the infectious sick are now 
compulsorily detained in the workhouse infirmary or isolation 
hospital. We may note, too, that the power to detain lunatics, 
for isolation, if not for cure, has, since 1834, been stretched so 
as to include many harmless persons of defective mind, who 
are now regularly certified for detention. Finally, we have 
the compulsory detention of children, ranging from detention 
against the will of every one except the parent, in the case 
of children of indoor paupers, up to the complete parental 
authority exercised by the board of guardians over orphan or 
deserted children ; and, in the guise of adoption, even extending 
to the age of sixteen, and against the will of the parents. And 
there are signs that the Principle of Compulsion — that is, the 
treatment of an individual in the way that the community 
deems best, whether he likes it or not — is about to form part 
of the policy for other sections of the destitute. 



^, 



270 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

C. — The Contkast between 1834 and 1907 

It is not without interest to contrast the three " principles 
of 1834" with the three "principles of 1907." In both 
cases the three principles hang together, and form, in fact, only 
aspects of a single philosophy of life. 

'^^ The "principles of 1834" plainly embody the doctrine of 
laisser /aire. They assume the non-responsibility of the com- 
munity for anything beyond keeping the destitute applicant 
alive. They rely, for inducing the individual to support 
himself independently, on the pressure that results from his 
being, in the competitive struggle, simply " let alone." As the 
only alternative to self-support, there is to be presented to 
him, uniformly throughout the country, the undeviating regimen 
of the workhouse, with conditions " less eligible " than those of 
the lowest grade of independent labourer. 

The "principles of 1907 " embody the dojctrinfi-of a Jiuitual 
obligation between the individual and the_.Qommunity. The 
universal maintenance of a definite minimum of civilised life 
— seen to be in the inteLestLf)£jJifi._CQiapiunity no less than in 
that of the individual — becomes the joint responsibility of an 
indissoluble partnership. The community recognises a^duty in 
the curative treatment of all who are in need of it; a duty 
most clearly seen in the medical treatment of the sick and the 
education of the children. Once this corporate responsibility 
is accepted, it becomes a question whether the universal pro- 
vision of any necessary common service is not the most 
advantageous method of fulfilling such responsibility — a 
method which has, at any rate, the advantage of leaving 
unimpaired the salutary inequality between the thrifty and the 
unthrifty. It is, moreover, an inevitable complement of this 
corporate responsibility and of the recognition of the indis- 
soluble partnership, that new and enlarged obligations, un- 
known in a state of laisser faire, are placed upon the individual 
— such as the obligation of the parent to keep his children in 
health, and to send them to school at the time and in the 
condition insisted upon ; the obligation of the young person to 
be well-conducted and to learn ; the obligation of the adult 
not to infect his environment and to submit when required to 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igo? 271 

hospital treatment. To enforce these obligations — all new 
since 1834 — upon the individual citizen, experience shows 
that some other pressure on his volition is required than that 
which results from merely leaving him alone. Hence the 
community, by the combination of the principles of Curative 
Treatment, Universal Provision and Compulsion, deliberately 
" weights " the alternatives, in the guise of a series of experi- 
ments upon volition. The individual retains as much freedom 
of choice as — if not more than — he ever enjoyed before. But 
the father finds it made more easy for him to get his children 
educated, and made more disagreeable for him to neglect them. 
It is made more easy for the mother to keep her infants in 
health, and more disagreeable for her to let them die. 
The man suffering from disease finds it made more easy for 
him to get cured without infecting his neighbours, and made 
more disagreeable for him not to take all the necessary 
precautions. The labour exchanges and the farm colonies aim 
at making it more easy for the wage-earner to get a situation ; 
perhaps the reformatory establishment, with powers of detention, 
is needed to make it more disagreeable for him not to accept 
and retain that situation. We must, in fact, recognise that the 
"principles of 1907," to which experience has gradually 
brought the Central Authority, "hang together" in theory 
and practice no less than did those of 1834. 



D. — No Man's Land 

But although the aforesaid "principles of 1907" demon- 
strably emerge in the statutes and orders, circulars and 
particular decisions of the Central Authority, and although 
they have severally received the most authoritative sanction 
for particular classes or on particular occasions, they have, as a 
whole, not been consciously substituted for the " principles of 
1834." Indeed, it is open to question whether successive 
presidents and particular officials, if suddenly cross-examined, 
might not reveal a complete unconsciousness of there being 
any new principles at all, and whether they might not profess 
to be still standing on the policy of 1834 ! The result is, on 
the one hand, a lack of clear exposition of policy, and, on the 



272 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

other, a failure to apply any policy at all, either systematically 
or with the necessary qualifications and safeguards. Ac- 
cordingly, the boards of guardians are in a state of hopeless 
bewilderment. They dimly realise that, in one crucial 
instance after another, the Principle of National Uniformity, 
the Principle of Less Eligibility, and the Workhouse System, 
have been authoritatively abandoned. They vaguely perceive, 
with regard to one section of paupers after another, that the 
Local Government Board directs them to act upon lines incon- 
sistent with those laid down in 1834. But they are not 
explicitly told what are the new principles, to what classes of 
paupers they are to be applied, and what safeguards and 
qualifications they demand. There is, in fact, to-day, a sort of 
" No Man's Land " in Poor Law administration, in which the 
principles of 1834 have been de facto abandoned, without the 
principles of 1907 being consciously substituted. Owing to 
this lack of central direction, we find diversity without 
deliberation, indulgence without cure, and relief without 
discipline. It is an incident of this failure consciously and 
explicitly to adopt deliberate principles of action, that no 
attention has been paid to their limitations and qualifications. 
The principles of 1834 were such as could be mechanically 
and universally applied, if only any Government had dared to 
do it. The principles to which the experience of the past 
seventy years has unconsciously led the Central Authority 
need to be carefully thought out in their application to partic- 
ular classes. These principles are, in fact, not all of universal 
application. There are classes {e.g. the aged) not susceptible 
of Curative Treatment; there are only a few sections {e.g. 
lunatics, infectious disease patients and the incorrigible loafers) 
who need Compulsion ; whilst, in our present civilisation, 
Universal Provision {e.g. education and sanitation in their 
widest interpretation, and old-age pensions) will be limited to 
particular services. This demarcation of the application of the 
principles on which the Central Authority is already proceed- 
ing, is not being discovered, or even sought after. It is 
here that the Poor Law Commission of 1905-9 will have its 
greatest effect. Its criticisms and its recommendations will be 
operative, whatever may be the legislative outcome, in deciding 
to what extent, and in what particular directions there will be 



THE PRINCIPLES OF igoy 273 

an increasing application of the Principle of Curative Treat- 
ment, the Principle of Compulsion, and the Principle of 
Universal Provision respectively ; or, on the other hand, to 
what extent and in what direction we shall seek to revive one 
or other of the principles of 1834. ' 



I 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 

OF 1905-1909 

The analysis of Poor Law Policy contained in the preceding 
chapters, and the comparative statement of principles to which 
it led, was made the subject of a report to the I- -yal Com- 
mission on the Poor Law in the very middle, o^ its; career. 
We have thought it convenient to leave the analysis and the 
statement — subject to the correction of a few trifling errors — 
exactly as they were written in July 1907. We have now 
to examine the Report of the Royal Commission itsel^ '^ to 
see how far that body responded to the suggestiv tiiai: ,.it 
should formulate a definite body of principles upon which 
public assistance should proceed.^ 

The Principles of 1907 

We turn first to the Report signed by the Majority of the 
Commissioners, including those members who were, or had been, 
members of the Charity Organisation Society. It is not easy 

1 The Reports of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and TJnem}iloy- 
ment may be had, in the official editions jmblished by Wyman & Sons, in one 
volume folio for 5/6 (Cd. 4499), or in three volumes octavo for 4/- (vols. i. and 
ii., the Majority Report, etc., 2/3 ; vol. iii., the Minority Report, 1/9). A descrip- 
tive analysis of the Majority Rejjort, by Mrs. Bernard Bosanijuet, entitled The 
Poor Law Report of 1909," is published by ]\Iacmillan & Co., price 2/6 cloth. 
The Minority Report, without footnotes or references, in large type on good 
paper, bound in cloth, -with introductions by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, is 
published by Longmans, Green & Co. (vol. i., "The Break-up of the Poor Law," 
price 7/6 ; vol. ii. "The Public Organisation of the Labour Market," price ">/-). 
A special cheap edition of the Minority Report, alone, without introduction, 
footnotes, or references, is published by the National Committee to Promote 
the Break-up of the Poor Law, 5 & 6 Clement's Inn, London, in two volumea 
(price 1/- each, postage 4d.). 

274 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 275 

to be sure what are the principles which the signatories of 
this Eeport wish to see accepted by the public. The whole 
wording of the lengthy document points in one direction, and 
n-^arly al"! its definite proposals in another. Thus, in the 
drastic critip^'sm of the present Poor Law ; in the phraseology 
running al^ hrough the Eeport, and in some of the detailed 
recommendations, we find a very definite, if generally tacit, 
abandonment of the "Principles of 1834," and a seeming 
adoption of what we have called the "Principles of 1907," as 
set forth in the preceding chapters. Indeed, the Majority 
Eeport is in one place explicit in its repudiation of the 
"Principles of 1834," arguing that, whatever may have been 
their validity three-quarters of a century ago, they are no 
longer applicable even to the able-bodied. "The adminis- 
trators of Jhe present Poor Law," it was expressly declared 
without c''''5sent from any Commissioner, "are in fact en- 
deavouring to apply the rigid system of 1834 to a condition 
of affairs which it was never intended to meet. Wha.t is 
wanted is not to abolish the Poor Law, but to widen, 
strenp-tlten, and humanise the Poor Law, so as to make it 
resj^ '] '^0 a demand for a more considerate, elastic, and, so 
fa as possible, curative treatment of the Able-bodied." ^ This 
interpretation of the Majority Eeport finds support in the fact 
that what we have termed the "Principles of 1907" are 
repeatedly endorsed. Thus, the Principle of Curative Treat- 
ment I3 expressed almost on every page. It is, in fact, 
owing to, the assertion and reassertion of this principle that 
the 'Majority Eeport owed its instantaneous popularity with 
the benevolent public. In sharp contrast with every previous 
Poor Law Eeport, this one urged that the children were to be 
brought up in the best possible way ; the sick were to be 
given the most curative treatment; the mentally defective 
were to be treated solely with a view to their amelioration ; 
the physically defective and the infirm were to have the 
specialised treatment and the appliances best calculated to 
remedy their defects ; even the able-bodied, whether the un- 
employed or the vagrants, the honest working-men or the 
wastrels, were to be dealt with by home treatment or in 
establishments of which the aim was to be training and 
» Par. 337 of Part VI. of Majority Eeport. 



276 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

reform. The Principle of Curative Treatment was made, in 
fact, the basis of all the methods proposed for the treatment 
of all the different sections of the pauper host. 

The Principle of Compulsion, — alien, as we have shown, 
to the whole spirit of the E-eport of 1834 — had, by 1907, 
only been adopted here and there. The Majority proposals of 
1909, far from reverting in this respect to those of 1834, not 
only heartily adopt such compulsion as has already entered 
into the Poor Law, but also carry the principle much further. 
These proposals involve the compulsory enforcement of 
pauperism on whole sections of the community who are 
considered to need public assistance, but who do not wish to 
accept it — on the helpless and friendless aged who get into 
an insanitary condition ; on the children of " Ins and Outs," 
and of other parents who are leading improper lives ; on the 
feeble-minded who are, nevertheless, not so mentally defective 
as to be able to be certified as of unsound mind; on sick 
persons not properly cared for in theu' own homes ; on children 
suffering from ophthalmia or other contagious diseases ; on 
persons of either sex suffering from venereal diseases ; on " un- 
married mothers " resorting to the workhouse in their hour 
of need ; and on able-bodied men and women who become 
repeatedly chargeable owing to their own misconduct. All 
these persons so diverse in their characters, their circumstances, 
and their needs, ought, it is expressly recommended, to be 
compulsorily detained in a Poor Law Institution or at the 
Poor Law expense, at the instance of the new Poor Law 
Authority. Whenever deemed necessary, they are to be made 
subject to what is euphemistically called " An Order for 
Continuous Treatment," under which their compulsory deten- 
tion may extend to as long as three years. " The term deten- 
tion," it is said, " is perhaps, however, infelicitous. It is 
generally associated with the idea of punishment by imprison- 
ment. Our primary object in proposing detention is neither 
punishment nor imprisonment. "We aim at affording 
opportunities for applying ameliorative treatment to particular 
individuals over a continuous period. We desire to substitute 
for the present system of incontinuous and inefficacious relief 
a continuity of care and treatment which shall benefit both 
the recipient and the community. . . . All these cases have 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 277 

this common characteristic, viz. that the absence of power 
of continuous treatment constitutes a danger either to the 
individual or the State." ^ 

Finally, the third of the "Principles of 1907" — that of 
Universal Provision — far from meeting with objection, receives 
.repeated endorsement. The Majority accept, without a word 
of criticism, the provision of national pensions for all the 
persons over seventy years of age below a certain income-limit, 
and they do not even suggest the maintenance of the present 
temporary disqualification of those who have received parochial 
relief since January 1, 1908. They endorse the universal 
provision by the Local Education Authority of medical inspec- 
tion and diagnosis for all children in attendance at the public 
elementary schools ; though they think that the contemplated 
provision of medical treatment for these children should not 
be a function of the Local Education Authority. They even 
recommend the universal provision of medical attendance for 
every sick person who applies for it, with free choice of 
doctors ; though it is urged that inquiry should be sub- 
sequently made as to the applicants' means, and that such as 
may be found to be able to pay for the service rendered to 
them should be required to do so. Hospital accommodation 
and treatment is, moreover, to be provided at the public 
expense, without charge and without disfranchisement wherever 
it is deemed to be required, including whatever is necessary 
for the proper treatment of phthisis. Finally, the National 
Government is to undertake an entirely new service ; to be 
available without charge to every one who cares to use it, 
irrespective of his affluence ; and to be as ubiquitous and as 
universal as the Post Of&ce. By a national system of Labour 
Exchanges, the present disjointed efforts of innumerable 
seekers after jobs are to be replaced by a public organisation, 
the business of which will be to know all the vacancies and 
all the applicants, and to find a man for every job, if not a job 
for every man. All this represents, not only the endorsement 
of the Principle of Universal Provision so far as it has already 
gone, but also a considerable further increase of the com- 
munistic activity of the State. 

1 Par. 150 of Part IX. of Majority Report. 



278 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

The Flea, for a Single Destitution Authority 

When, however, we study the detailed recommendatioas of 
the Majority Eeport, and consider the probable working of the 
machinery that they would set up, we discover, notwithstand- 
ing all the elaborately sympathetic phrases, a very definite 
trend backward to the "Principles of 1834," in a manner 
which seems to us calculated ingeniously to nullify the 
apparent repudiation, and in reality to leave the situation 
more confused than before. 

We have to note, in the first place, that the Majority 
Eeport lays the utmost stress on the importance of retaining 
in each locality what is definitely a "Destitution Authority." 
" It should," they declare, " be a fundamental condition of the 
assistance system of the future that the responsibility for the 
due and effective relief of all necessitous persons at the public 
expense should be in the hands of one, and only one, authority 
in each County and County Borough." ^ To this principle 
they recur again and again as of paramount importance. In 
retaining this General Destitution Authority, and in emphasising 
the necessity for the treatment of all sections — the infants, the 
children, the sick, the aged, the prematurely incapacitated, the 
able-bodied unemployed — being committed to its charge, the 
Majority Eeport may fairly claim to be standing on the same 
ground as the authors of the 1834 Eeport, though with a signi- 
ficant difference. To the Eoyal Commission of 1834 the 
single all-embracing Destitution Authority was not a matter 
of principle at all, but a necessity, which no one questioned. 
Throughout the whole country there had been only one kind of 
Local Authority which gave any sort of public assistance to the 
poor, and that was the Poor Law Authority. The 1834 Eeport 
could, accordingly, take it for granted that all sections of the 
persons to be relieved at the public expense on the ground of 
their necessities must be dealt with, as destitute persons, by 
one and the same authority. In 1909 the position has 
become quite different. There have grown up, since 1834,. 
other public authorities in each district, which provide, 
independently of the Poor Law, this or that form of public 
assistance to persons who require it, sometimes to all who 
1 Par. 609 of Part VI. of the Majority Report. 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 279 

applj, sometimes to those only who prove their need. The 
Local Education Authorities, the Local Health Authorities, the 
Local Lunacy Authorities, the Local Pension Authorities, and 
the Local Unemployed Authorities are, in fact, spending in the 
aggregate on the children, the sick, the mentally defective, the 
aged and the able-bodied unemployed, in their several forms of 
public assistance, out of the same fund of rates and taxes, 
more than twice as much every year as all the Poor Law 
Authorities put together. To the Eoyal Commission of 1909 
the retention of a general Destitution Authority, dealing with 
all sections of destitute persons as destitute persons, was, there- 
fore, not a necessity. It was a deliberate choice, and we find 
them erecting it into a principle. This principle does not, as 
might perhaps be supposed, apply only to the provision of 
maintenance. It is expressly asserted that the schooling and 
industrial training of the persons relieved and the medical 
attendance of the sick, so far as it is provided at the public 
expense, must equally form part of the work of the new 
Poor Law Authorities. Even the provision of Day Industrial 
Schools for destitute uncared-for children, of public Sanatoria 
for phthisis patients, and of Eescue Homes for girl mothers, 
in so far as undertaken at the public expense, must be the 
work of the new Poor Law Authorities.-^ It is part of the 
same idea to insist on the importance of there being 
established a single "Public Assistance Service . . . which 
should include all officers concerned with the supervision 
control and disciplinary treatment of the poor . . . not only 
the . . . relieving officers both male and female " but also 
" masters, matrons, and superintendents of institutions of every 
grade," whether for the children, the sick, or the able-bodied 
unemployed. All these officers, whatever their technical 
duties, are to have a certain common training, to receive 

1 Par. 420 of Part IV. ; and pars. 92, 99-100 and 148a of Part IX. of 
Majority Report. To this principle of placing all forms of public assistance 
under a general Public Assistance Authority (and thus classing all the recipients 
as paupers) the Majority make a remarkable exception. They acquiesce, so far 
as England and Wales are concerned, in the proposed taking out of the Poor 
Law of all the various gi-ades of the Mentally Defective — the lunatics, the 
idiots, the feeble-minded, and the chronically inebriate — and the treatment of 
this great class, amounting to 20 per cent of the present pauper host, not in 
respect of their destitution, but, whatever their pecuniary circumstances, in 
respect of their mental defect, by an authority specialising on that branch of 
administration. 



28o ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

certificates of different grades, to enjoy opportunities of promo- 
tion from one post to another, and to be made to realise, 
throughout their whole service, that they are " concerned with 
the moral training of those committed to their care."^ Thus, all 
the various specialised institutions, which are to replace the 
General Mixed Workhouse — the nursery, the residential school, 
the hospital, the dispensary, the " industrial institution " for 
the able-bodied, the Eescue Home for girl mothers, the phthisis 
sanatorium and the home for the helpless aged — are to be 
administered by officers of a single homogeneous interchangeable 
service, deliberately focusing their attention on the moral 
accompaniments assumed to be characteristic of destitute persons 
as such, whether these are children or adults, sick or whole. 
" From the point of view thus indicated," explains an authori- 
tative exponent of the Majority Eeport, " there is, as it were, an 
army of social healers to be trained and organised; and it is 
like the army of war in the fundamental fact that it is to 
be disciplined and animated with a single spirit and purpose, 
however varied and specialised may be the duties that fall 
within its range. The whole of these proposals are founded 
on the conviction that there is a problem common and peculiar 
to the entire range of destitution or necessitousness, demanding 
a common and peculiar method of dealing with it." ^ This, 
indeed, is the fundamental difference between the Majority 
Eeport and the Minority Eeport. " The antagonism," continues 
this exponent, " cannot be put too strongly. The Majority 
proceed upon the principle that where there is a failure 
of social self-maintenance in the sense above defined, there 
is a defect in the citizen character, or at least a grave danger 
to its integrity ; and that, therefore, every case of this kind 
raises a problem which is ' moral ' in the sense of affecting the 
whole capacity of self-management, to begin with in the person 
who has failed, and secondarily in the whole community so 
far as influenced by expectation and example." ^ 

In this cogent argument for the retention of the Category 
of the Destitute, and of one Authority, and one Authority only, 
for all classes of destitute persons, we see two distinct and 

1 Par. 143 of Part IV. of Majority Report. 

2 "The Majority Report," by Professor Bernard Bosanquet {Sociological 
Review, April 1909). 

3 Ihid. 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 281 

separate assumptions, one as to fact, and the other as to social 
expediency. We have first the suggestion that, in all classes 
of persons who need maintenance at the hands of the State, 
there is, as a matter of fact, a moral defect, common to the 
whole class and requiring specific treatment. Secondly, we 
see creeping out from behind this suggestion a further assump- 
tion as to the policy which ought to be pursued by the 
Poor Law Authority. This Authority, which is to have in its 
charge all the heterogeneous population of infants, children, 
sick and mentally defective persons, the aged and the infirm, 
the widows, the vagrants, and the unemployed, is to treat 
them, not with a single eye, to what is best calculated to 
turn them, or any of them, into efficient citizens, not even 
with a single eye to what will most successfully remedy the 
" moral defect " which they are assumed all to possess, but 
with the quite different object of warning off or deterring, " by 
expectation and example," other persons from applying for 
like treatment. In other words, we must, by keeping all the 
different varieties of people who require State aid under one 
Authority, and under one that assumes the existence of this 
" moral defect," retain for all alike, not only the " stigma of 
pauperism," but also a method of provision which will " deter " 
others from coming to be treated. We find ourselves, in short, 
back at the "Principles of 1834."^ 



The Reversion to 1834 

With this clue to their meaning, it becomes possible to 
understand the main constinictive proposals of the Majority 
Commissioners. The most distinctive feature of these proposals, 
as well as the most novel, is the setting up in every district, 
side by side, of two separate organisations for the assistance of 
the poor ; one to deal with one set of people and the other 
with another set ; one, the " Public Assistance Authority," to 
administer the Poor Law, at the expense of the rates, whilst 
the other, the Voluntary Aid Committee, to carry out the desires 

1 The Minority Commissioners took up the discussion on this fundamental 
point in the Minority Report for Scotland (Cd. 4922) ; and we give in an appendix 
to the present volume (Appendix B) the detailed answer there afforded to 
Professor Bosanquet's argument. 



282 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of the charitable, mainly out of private funds.^ This proposal 
is, in our judgment, a bold attempt to get back the " Principles 
of 1834" in all their austerity. From the writings of 
Chadwick and Nassau Senior down to the latest pronounce- 
ments of the Charity Organisation Society, it has always been 
held that any Poor Law administration according to the 
"Principles of 1834," involved the co-existence of voluntary 
charity sufficiently well- organised to prevent the deserving 
person from falling under the deterrent conditions of the 
Poor Law, and from being subject to the stigma of pauperism. 
According to this view, which received the endorsement of 
Mr. (afterwards Lord) Goschen's celebrated Minute of 1870, 
the public assistance of the Poor Law Authority is designed, and 
intended only for the undeserving, it being assumed that those 
worthy of anything better than the Poor Law supplied ought 
to be provided for by organised charity. When we find the 
Majority Keport explicitly " accepting the principle of Mr. 
Goschen's Minute " ; ^ setting up in every district a Voluntary 
Aid Committee to carry out this principle ; definitely recom- 
mending that rules should be made requiring certain classes of 
applicants to apply to the Voluntary Aid Committee, and certain 
others to the public Authority, whether the applicants like it 
or not ; ^ and expressly stipulating that the treatment provided 
by the latter is to be " less eligible " than that which the 
former may be pleased to prescribe,* we cannot help feeling 
that the policy of the future " Public Assistance Authority " is, 
after all, to be the Poor Law of 1834, dealing only (as is 
assumed) with the worthless and the undeserving whom the 
charitable have, because of their character, refused to aid, and 
to whom the New Poor Law is to extend only " less eligible " 
treatment.^ If the new Public Assistance Authorities are really 

1 "It had been suggested," explained one of the signatories of the Majority 
Report, "that the Majority Report was a C.O.S. report from beginning to end. 
. . . The C.O.S. might be proud to feel that they had set their mark upon 
that report. . . . The idea was that, before the Public Assistance Authority 
undertook the cases, they should make themselves perfectly certain that charity 
was incapable of dealing with them, and that charity should always have the 
first attempt at a remedy, that charity should act as a sieve through which the 
cases should pass before they came to the Public Authority" (Lecture by the 
Rev. L. R. Phelps at Norwich, Eastern Daily Press, 30th June 1909). 

2 Majority Report, Part VII. par. 198, 236. 

3 Ibid. par. 613 of Part VI. * Ibid. par. 623 of Part VI. 

^ That this interpretation is not unwarranted is shown by the explanation 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 283 

intended to proceed on " curative and restorative " principles, 
and " to widen, strengthen, and hnmanise the Poor Law," 
why is so much stress laid on Mr, Goschen's Minute (which 
was based on a " deterrent " and " negative " Poor Law), and 
why is it so important to rescue, by means of a Voluntary Aid 
Committee, all the deserving cases from the clutches of the 
Public Assistance Authority ? If the treatment applied by the 
Public Assistance Authority is really to be that calculated to 
be what is most " curative and restorative " to them, why should 
the " deserving " cases be debarred from it ? In this ingenious 
mapping out of the relative spheres of Voluntary Charity and 
the Poor Law, we see embodied, in the most plausible and the 
most practical form, the two -fold assumption of Professor 
Bosanquet, namely, that those for whom provision is made by 
the Poor Law are persons with a moral defect, whom it is 
necessary to treat in such a way as to discourage, " by expecta- 
tion and example," others from applying for the public 
treatment. 

We are not ourselves surprised to find the Majority Ee- 
port, which started out with an acceptance of the " Principles 
of 1907," thus reverting in its practical proposals to the 
"Principles of 1834." What was brought out by the 
elaborate investigations of the Eoyal Commission of 1905-9 
was that, however successful the new principles had proved in 
other hands, it was neither expedient nor practicable for a 
Poor Law Authority, just because it was a Poor Law Authority, 
to administer relief on the lines of Curative Treatment, Com- 
pulsion, and Universal Provision. Thus, the two halves of the 
Majority Eeport are incompatible with each other. If there is 
to be, under the name of the Public Assistance Authority, a 
general Destitution Authority, there cannot, in fact, be any 
universal or whole-hearted adoption of the " Principles of 
1907," even to the extent to which they receive apparent 
endorsement. 

given by one of the signatories of tlie Majority Report. " Charity should be 
properly organised to deal with these cases. . . . This was the position of the 
Majority Report. . . . Their motto should not be 'Help the deserving,' but 
'Help the hopeful cases,' and leave State action for that section of the community 
which needed the bridle, the curb, and the spurs to be disciplined " (Lecture by 
the Rev. L. R. Phelps at Sheffield, Sheffield Independent, 15th December 1909). 



284 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

The mutual Incompatibility of the Proposals of the 
Majority Report 

Now, in our judgment, both the positions successively 
taken up in the Majority Report are untenable. We propose 
first to show that it is not possible for the " Principles of 
1907" (to which, as we have seen, three-quarters of a century 
of experience has driven the Local Government Board) to be 
carried out by a Destitution Authority, either efficiently or 
economically, or, indeed, without danger. It was just this im- 
possibility that has led to the " diversity without deliberation, 
indulgence without cure, and relief without discipline," which 
marks the Poor Law administration of to-day, and which caused 
the appointment of the Eoyal Commission. On this point we 
agree with those who stand on the old lines. If there is to he 
a Poor Law Authority, there is no safety tut in the " Principles 
of 1834." On the other hand, we hold public opinion to be 
justified in condemning these principles, and in demanding the 
application of Curative Treatment, Compulsion, and Universal 
Provision. But the economical and efficient administration of 
these three principles involves the acceptance of another, the 
Principle of Prevention — the principle of actively prevent- 
ing the several caicses of destitution, and of arresting their 
operation at the incipient stage, whether by operating on the 
individual or on the environment. Without the thorough- 
going application of this Principle of Prevention by the various 
Public Authorities concerned, Curative and Eestorative Treat- 
ment inevitably undermines the motive of self-maintenance 
and weakens parental responsibility, Compulsion strikes at the 
consciousness of personal freedom, and Universal Provision 
tends to degrade into an unenlightened communism. 

The incompatibility of the Principles of 1907 with the 
very nature of a general Destitution Authority will, we think, 
be clear to any one who will consider the subject in detail. 

(i.) The Principle of Curative Treatment and a 
Destitution Authority 

It is, to begin with, an inherent drawback of any general 
Destitution Authority for the work of Curative Treatment that 
it is necessarily a " mixed " Authority, having to deal, not with 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE RO YAL COMMISSION 285 

patients suffering from any one disease, but with persons of the 
most diverse needs, and requiring treatment of very different 
nature. To entrust to one and the same Authority the care of 
the infants and the aged, the children and the able-bodied 
adults, the sick and the healthy, maids and widows ; and to 
instruct that Authority to adopt "curative and restorative 
treatment," is inevitably to concentrate attention, not on the 
different methods that their several necessities require, but on 
their one common attribute of destitution, and on the one 
common remedy of " relief " upon whatever terms, strict or 
lax, that may be in fashion. To a Destitution Authority, 
however constituted, a sick person is not wholly a patient, he 
is also a pauper ; and too often his character of pauper inter- 
feres with his being regarded with a single eye as a patient 
to be cured. To such an Authority a destitute child is not 
merely, or even mainly, a future citizen, to be nurtured and 
trained in the wisest way for the service of the community ; 
the fact that the child is a pauper cannot by a Destitution 
Authority be forgotten, and all experience shows that this 
remembrance injuriously affects what is done for the child. 

A further drawback is that the " mixed " Authority, having 
to deal simultaneously with all sections and all kinds of 
persons, tends invariably to a service of " mixed " officials ; 
and with a Destitution Authority this service is almost 
necessarily composed of " Destitution " officials. They are 
not, and can scarcely be, specially trained to deal with infants, 
or with children, or with able-bodied adults, or with the sick, 
or with the mentally defective, or with the aged. The specialist 
training and experience that they acquire is not with atiy of 
these, but with the one common attribute of destitution. Thus 
the typical Eelieving Officer or Workhouse Master has not, 
and can seldom hope to have, the specialist knowledge that 
would fit him to be a competent inspector of boarded-out 
girls, a useful guardian of feeble-minded boys, a successful 
administrator of a Eescue Home, a skilled superintendent of 
a phthisis sanatorium, a happy adviser in discovering situations 
for men out of work, or an expert trainer for those who have 
to be prepared for new occupations. Even when public- 
spirited Boards of Guardians, under the wisest administrative 
guidance, persistently strive to make " a classified Poor Law," 



286 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

they fail to attain, in fact, the classification that they desire. 
This is seen in the persistence of the General Mixed Workhouse, 
in spite of the explicit condemnation of a succession of expert 
critics. It is seen in the fact that, after twenty years of 
" scattered homes " for children, we still find the Guardians 
unable to resist the temptation of putting into them, along 
with the children, feeble-minded and morally perverted girls 
in their adolescence. It is seen in the fact that, after fifty 
years of Poor Law Schools, there is still no classification of 
the pupils according to their educational needs ; and we find 
everywhere, sitting side by side, in the same school, the feeble- 
minded child, the merely backward child, the precocious 
young scholar, and the incipient criminal, all submitted to 
the same curriculum, with the same books, under the same 
teacher. Even in the latest efforts at classification, by a 
model Board of Guardians, we find, housed on the same site 
and managed by the same superintendent, the most deserving 
aged persons, the epileptic patients, and the able-bodied men 
relegated to the discipline of " test labour.^' Such specialised 
institutions as have come into existence under a Destitution 
Authority are, in fact, perpetually crumbling back into the 
General Mixed Workhouse. We see no reason to expect that 
a general Destitution Authority that was nominated, instead 
of being elected, would be free from this besetting tendency. 

But the inherent incapacity of any Destitution Authority 
to cope with the task comes out most strongly in its inevitable 
failure to deal with the " incipient stage." By the very nature 
of a Destitution Authority it can deal only with cases of 
destitution, and the greatest stress is laid, and rightly laid, 
on the necessity for this limitation. This means that it never 
does, and never can, deal with any disease or any moral defect, ^ 
or any injurious influence of any kind, in its incipient stage. An 
independent citizen who begins in any way to be adversely 
affected in mind, body, or estate, in such a manner as to be 
reduced to a state of destitution, does not, in most cases, 
suddenly, or even quickly, reach that depth. The evil 
influence takes some time to bring him down. All that 
time, whilst the progress of the disease may still be arrested, 
and a cure is possible, the Destitution Authority does not 
hear of the case, and would be legally precluded from inter- 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 287 

veiling, even if it did hear of it, because there is not yet any 
destitution. Eventually, when the case has become so bad 
that employment is lost, savings are dissipated and friends 
exhausted, resort is had to the Destitution Authority, But 
the case is then too far gone for any useful intervention. All 
that can then be done is, whatever the case, to administer 
"relief," and ease the patient's sinking into senility or the 
grave. This inherent defect of a Destitution Authority, which 
no alteration of name or composition or policy can remedy, 
must for ever prevent it applying curative or restorative 
treatment in any really effective way. No Poor Law and no 
Poor Law Authority, just because it is a Poor Law and a 
Poor Law Authority, can ever reach out to anticipate and 
ward off destitution hefore it has occurred. And this failure 
to get hold of the incipient case applies to all the various 
kinds of adverse influences that cause destitution. It is, 
perhaps, most clearly seen in such physical diseases as phthisis, 
to which one-seventh of all the pauperism is due. Here the 
interval between the detection of the disease and its develop- 
ment to such an extent as to bring wage-earning employment 
to an end may often be several years. If treated at the 
early stage, before destitution has set in, the disease is often 
curable. If not treated until the patient is so ill as to be 
unable to earn wages, the case is invariably incurable. It is 
needless to instance other physical diseases of like kind. We 
may adduce unemployment as an example of an equally 
dangerous complaint, apt to be curable if dealt with at once ; 
and only too likely to be hopeless if left until destitution has 
set in. The case of the infant or child suffering from neglect 
is another patent example. In short, if the Public Authority 
must in all cases hold its hand until destitution has set in, 
as any Destitution Authority must do, it might as well abandon 
all hope, in the vast majorit}^ of cases, of any effective curative 
or restorative treatment. It never gets the cases until they 
are too far gone. We might as well run a hospital on the 
plan of never consenting to admit any case until mortification 
had set in ! 

Now, it becomes more and more apparent that it is a useless 
extravagance to adopt the policy of curative and restorative 
treatment, unless we are prepared to " search out " the cases 



288 ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 

that need dealing with, — the infants and children who are 
just beginning to be neglected by their parents and guardians, 
the persons of all ages who are just beginning to suffer from 
disease, the feeble-minded lacking ameliorating care, the man 
just smitten with unemployment — at the stage in their 
complaint at which the application of our treatment has, at 
anyrate, some chance of yielding effective results. The Local 
Education Authority or the Local Health Authority under- 
stands at once that it cannot do its work if it waits until it 
is applied to. It accordingly searches out illiterate children 
of school age, or persons smitten with infectious disease. But 
a Destitution Authority, administering a Poor Law, cannot 
in this way " search out " the cases needing its attention 
without thereby offering assistance to those who are not 
pecuniarily destitute. Accordingly, it is of the very nature 
of any Destitution Authority to restrict its operations as much 
as possible, to deter people from coming, or to wait, at any rate, 
until it is applied to. It is from this inability to adopt a 
policy of " searching out " that a Destitution Authority never 
gets hold of the case in its incipient stage, and is never really 
preventive of destitution. 

An instance of the impracticability of the application of 
curative and restorative treatment by a Poor Law Authority, 
just because it is a Poor Law Authority, is afforded by the ebb 
and flow of the whole class of " Ins and Outs." This well- 
known class, in all its varieties, comprises the able-bodied 
or semi- able -bodied frequenter of urban workhouses, the 
customer of the casual wards, the inebriate in his recurring 
attacks of delirium tremens, the feeble-minded girl in her 
annual confinements, and, last but not by any means least 
important, the unfortunate infants and children dragged 
to and fro by their parents. Whatever their sex, their age, 
their health, their character, or their conduct, these " Ins and 
Outs " come at the crisis of their destitution, and go as soon 
as they can see their way to some sort of a living outside, 
choosing their own times and seasons for demanding the 
maintenance which a Poor Law Authority dare not withhold, 
and for resuming the liberty which it cannot refuse. So long 
as the conditions offered by the Poor Law Authority are 
" deterrent," few will apply for this maintenance ; the vagrant, 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 289 

the able-bodied loafer, the temporarily sick, the disabled 
drunkard, parents with neglected children, the epileptic and 
the feeble-minded preferring, even at the cost of foregoing the 
treatment that they really need, such other forms of parasitism 
as free shelters, the doles of the charitable, the gifts of friends 
and relations, or the earnings of their unfortunate dependents. 
But let the conditions offered by the Poor Law Authority 
be " curative and restorative " in their character, and all 
classes of " Ins and Outs " will clamour for the hospitality 
of the Poor Law whenever their other means of parasitism 
show signs of falling short. "Whether they come in or remain 
out, a Poor Law Authority, just because it is a Poor Law 
Authority, is wholly unable to enforce on them, before they 
are destitute, the sort of conduct that would prevent their 
'becoming destitute, and would thus preserve the community 
from the danger and cost of their parasitic existence. The 
Poor Law Authority is thus incapable, not (as is often 
supposed) because it has no adequate powers of detention, 
and because it must let its patients go whenever they please. 
Its incapacity depends on the more fundamental and less cur- 
able defect that, as a Destitution Authority, it is inherently 
incapable of bringing pressure to bear on the lives and wills 
of these people, at the time when such pressure may be 
effective, namely, long before they have become destitute, at the 
moment when they are taking the first step towards the evil 
parasitism to which they eventually succumb. 

(ii.) The Principle of Compulsion and a Destitution Authority 

It has usually been considered impracticable to combine 
any powers of compulsion with a Poor Law system. The 
Majority Eeport proposes, however, to endow its new Public 
Assistance Authority with extensive powers of compulsory 
treatment ; that is to say, to enable the administrators of the 
Poor Law to dispense with its limitation to those who are 
actually destitute and unable to maintain themselves, when- 
ever such administrators choose to consider it expedient to 
compel particular persons, who claim not to be destitute, to 
become or to continue paupers, with the object of segregating 
them from their fellows. Such an extension of the powers of 

u 



290 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the Public Assistance Authority would be inconsistent with 
one of the cardinal principles of the Majority Report, namely, 
that the area of the operations of the Poor Law should not be 
extended.^ What is more important is that it does not seem 
at all probable that any House of Commons would consent to 
give to any Destitution Authority, maintaining the stigma of 
pauperism, the power to make a man a pauper against his 
wiU. 

So far as compelling persons who are ill, and who need 
treatment, to come in and be treated for their own good, or 
for the health of the neighbourhood, this is a power which 
Parliament has already, in certain cases, conceded to the 
Local Health Authority, which has no stigma of pauperism, 
and which has, moreover, the machinery for searching out the 
cases, irrespective of their affluence. These powers could 
easily be extended. It would seem both futile and unnecessary, 
with regard to persons whose need is nursing and medical 
attendance, and who may not be pecuniarily destitute, to 
confer a similar power also on the Destitution Authority, 
which has no such machinery for searching out cases, and no 
particular responsibility for the Public Health. 

With regard to the second great class of those whom it is 
desired to segregate compulsorily against their will, namely, the 
feeble-minded, the whole weight of expert opinion is against 
conferring this power upon either the existing Board of 
Guardians or any Poor Law Authority, and in favour of en- 
trusting it to the Lunacy Authority, an Authority which — in 
contrast with any Destitution Authority — will treat these un- 
fortunate persons in respect of their ascertained defect, and 
not in respect of their destitution, or in respect of any moral 
defect assumed to be connected therewith. 

When we come to the children, the case is even clearer. 
If power is to be given to any Authority to separate a child 
from its parents, and to deprive the latter of its custody and 
care, public opinion emphatically demands that this power 
should be conferred and exercised solely for the good of the 
child, and with a view to its best possible nurture and training. 

1 " "We do not recommend any alteration of the law which would . . . bring 
within the operation of assistance from public funds classes not now legally 
within its operation" (Par. 4 of Part IX.). 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 291 

It is plain that this is best secured by freeing the child from 
all association with pauperism, and entrusting its care to the 
Authority which deals, apart from any stigma of pauperism, 
with other children in a normal way, and which specialises on 
their proper training. 

Finally, in the case of able-bodied and able-minded men 
and women in health, whose distress arises merely from their 
being without wage -earning employment — whatever may be 
the cause of such unemployment — it will, we think, be wholly 
impracticable to obtain, for a Destitution Authority, any 
powers of compulsory segregation. To compel, by law, able- 
bodied men and women to become paupers against their will ; 
to force upon them a degrading status with the stigma of 
pauperism, when they do not even apply for public assistance ; 
to compel them to come into an institution of the Destitution 
Authority, when they ask only to be let alone, must, we think, 
in the absence of any judicial conviction of a specific offence 
against the law, be dismissed as politically out of the question. 
It may be that some such restriction of personal liberty is 
essential to the effective curative treatment of particular in- 
dividuals, whose unemployment proceeds from their own 
personal defects. But no power of compulsory segregation 
can be justified except in respect of individuals in which this 
personal defectiveness has been definitely ascertained and 
judicially certified. The Destitution Authority, having no 
means of ascertaining whether or not situations are available, 
and no opportunity of experimenting upon the personal willing- 
ness of its patients to accept and retain wage-earning employ- 
ment, can never sift out the voluntary from the involuntary 
unemployed. Moreover, even if the Destitution Authority 
possessed the machinery for searching out the men who really 
needed reformatory treatment, but who did not apply for 
relief, and if it had some infallible method of recognising 
which of them were involuntarily idle, and which of them were 
unemployed through their own defects of character, it would 
still be impossible to justify the grant of compulsory powers of 
segregation, except to an Authority which was both authorised 
and qualified to improve — not to pauperise and degrade — the 
persons, unconvicted of any crime, whom it thus forcibly de- 
prived of their freedom. 



292 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

We come to quite a different kind of compulsion when no 
one is forced to become a pauper against his will, but those 
who have voluntarily entered a Poor Law Institution may be, 
under certain circumstances, detained against their will, either 
for their own advantage, or as a disciplinary measure. In such 
a case Parliament has already shown itself willing to grant 
certain minor powers of detention. But there is, as all Poor 
Law administrators know, a practical difficulty in enforcing 
any such detention at any time or in any way that is un- 
pleasant to the common run of patients, even when it is 
sought only to exercise the power for the patient's own good. 
Experience shows that, if those who need the shelter of the 
institution, or the care which it affords, believe that they will 
be liable to be detained against their will, many of them 
simply will not come in to be treated ; and, least of all, if the 
liability to compulsory detention is combined with the stigma 
and the degradation of pauperism. Thus, compulsory detention 
is a natural and defective adjunct of a " deterrent " Poor Law, 
because it scares people off; but it is a fatal obstacle to the 
operations of a Poor Law which is intended to be curative and 
restorative. The very patients to whom the " order for con- 
tinuous treatment " would be most appropriate and most useful 
will refuse to come in. Without the will, the power, or the 
machinery for " searching out " cases (other than those who 
apply for relief), which no Poor Law Authority can ever have, 
or the power to compel them to come in, irrespective of their 
pecuniary resources or their own consent, which no Poor Law 
Authority is ever likely to be granted, any policy of com- 
pulsory detention of those already in the Poor Law Institutions 
becomes, on any policy of curative and restorative treatment, 
simply suicidal. Those for whom the curative and restorative 
treatment is especially designed do not present themselves. 

(iii.) Tlu Principle of Universal Provision and a 
Destitution Authority 

When we come to the third of the "Principles of 1907," 
that of Universal Provision, we see at once that this is in- 
herently inconsistent with the very nature of a Destitution 
Authority. It is of the essence of a Destitution Authority 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 293 

whatever its functions and whatever its designation, that it 
should confine its ministrations to a particular section of the 
community, namely those who are destitute. But with regard 
to one subject after another, such as primary education or 
sanitation, or the ordinary matters of municipal government, 
the community has come to the conclusion that it is in the 
public interest that these services should be rendered to all 
who need or claim them, whatever their affluence. Thus, 
whenever it is decided to apply the Principle of Universal 
Provision to any public service, either free of any charge or 
upon payment of a stated price or contribution, this public 
service necessarily falls to some Public Authority other than 
that administering the Poor Law. And the further conse- 
quence arises that at once we get, in respect of that particular 
service, an overlapping of functions and duplication of work. 
The Destitution Authority is bound to provide everything 
requisite (including the service in question) for its destitute 
clients. The other Public Authority is bound to supply the 
service in question to all who need it (including those who are 
destitute). This overlapping and duplication has, as we have else- 
where indicated, already gone very far. The Local Education 
Authorities are now providing for children, irrespective of their 
affluence, not only primary, secondary, and university education, 
but also, in many tens of thousands of cases, medical inspection 
and treatment, meals at school, and even complete board, 
lodging, and clothing. The Local Health Authorities are now 
providing for the sick, irrespective of their affluence, not only 
sanitary inspection and control, but also medical diagnosis and 
treatment, nursing, and (in 700 municipal hospitals) even 
maintenance. The Local Lunacy Authorities are now pro- 
viding for all grades of the mentally defective, irrespective of 
their affluence, not only control, but also amehorative treatment 
and maintenance. The Local Pension Authorities are now 
providing for all persons over seventy who do not possess more 
than twelve shillings a week of income, irrespective of whether 
or not they are destitute, regular pensions from national funds. 
The Local Unemployment Authorities (the Distress Committees) 
are providing for all men who are unemployed, quite irre- 
spective of their affluence, various costly services, part of 
which are now in process of being transferred to a IsTational 



294 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Authority (the ISTational Lahour Exchange). It is not possible 
to stop this overlap and duplication by establishing, as the 
Majority Eeport vainly desiderates, in every district " one 
Authority and only one Authority" for all forms of public 
assistance, for this would be, as we see, to merge in the Poor 
Law all the services of Local Government, and to extend the 
" stigma of pauperism " to the entire community. Indeed, the 
adoption of the Principle of Universal Provision has already 
gone so far, and the services of the separate Public Authorities 
are already so all-embracing, that there is no section of the 
pauper host for which they do not nowadays provide. Destitute 
children are already being maintained by the Local Education 
Authorities, destitute sick by the Local Health Authorities, 
destitute mentally defective by the Local Lunacy Authorities, 
destitute aged by the Local Pension Authorities, and destitute 
able-bodied by the Local Unemployment Authorities — actually 
in greater numbers, in the aggregate, than those still under the 
Poor Law. There are no paupers who do not belong to one 
or other of these five sections. Hence the partial adoption by 
the community of this Principle of Universal Provision has 
rendered unnecessary the retention of any Destitution 
Authority. Its work is being done elsewhere. 

We must remember that the Principle of Universal Pro- 
vision in no way implies or involves, either the gratuitousness 
of the service or the charging of any uniform fee. The en- 
forcement by the Local Health Authority of a National 
Minimum of. sanitation and water-supply for each dwelling- 
house, does not mean that these things are necessarily provided 
by the Local Health Authority itself, or free of charge. Most 
of the service is ensured by an enforcement upon the owners 
and occupiers of dwelling-houses of the fulfilment of their 
personal obligations. The provision by the Local Education 
Authority of educational facilities for all who claimed them 
was long accompanied by a universal charging of fees, and is, 
above the primary grade, still usually made a matter of charge. 
The Local Lunacy Authorities insist on payment being made 
in respect of all their patients whose settlements they can 
trace, recovering the full cost (apart from the Government 
Grant) either from the patient's own estate, or from his 
relations, or from the Union to which he belongs. Hence 



MAJORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 295 

we see that the adoption of the Principle of Universal Pro- 
vision does not imply or involve the gratuitousness of the 
service, or any diminution of the number or kinds of cases 
in which, under the present law and practice, payment is 
enforced on the individual or his relations. A transfer to 
the several Preventive Authorities (the Education Authority, 
the Health Authority, the Lunacy Authority, and the Unem- 
ployment Authority) of the various services now combined 
under the Board of Guardians, could, in fact, hardly fail to 
lead to a more systematic consideration and a far stricter 
enforcement of the duty of repaying the cost of the treatment 
than the present slipshod and logically inconsistent arrange- 
ments. What particular services should be charged for to 
the recipients as such, and which to the ratepayers as a 
whole ; in what proportion the cost should be shared between 
the patient, the Local Authority, and the National Govern- 
ment ; and at what rate and under what conditions any such 
charges should be recovered by legal process in particular 
cases, are all of them questions which should, in our view, 
be authoritatively determined by Parliament, in a clear and 
consistent code relating to Charge and Eecovery of Cost. 



CHAPTEK VII 

THE MINOEITY EEPOET OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 

OF 1905-1909 

We have described how the Majority Eeport of the Eoyal 
Commission professedly accepts the "Principles of 1907," but 
attempts to graft them upon a new Destitution Authority, 
and then inevitably finds itself compelled — seeing that these 
principles are incompatible with the very nature of a 
Destitution Authority — to revert, in reality, to the "Principles 
of 1834." The Minority Eeport, on the other hand, carries 
the " Principles of 1907" to their logical conclusion ; and 
at the same time discovers to us the unifying principle on 
which they have been unconsciously based, and by which 
alone their possible costliness can be limited and justified. 
Thus the Minority Eeport finds, at the stage to which English 
Local Government has now attained, absolutely no need for a 
Poor Law Authority, or for any policy of " relieving " destitu- 
tion on any principles whatsoever. It finds the other Public 
Authorities already dealing, on the Principles of Curative 
Treatment, Compulsion, and Universal Provision, and as a 
part of their normal functions in connection with the popula- 
tion at large, with all the different sections of the pauper 
host ; the Local Education Authority providing for many 
destitute children of school age; the Local Health Authority 
for many destitute infants, and sick and infirm persons ; the 
Local Lunacy Authority for actually a majority of the destitute 
mentally defective ; the Local Pension Authority for hundreds 
of thousands of destitute aged ; and the Local Unemployment 
Authority, now to be reinforced by a National Unemployment 
Authority, for innumerable destitute able-bodied. Thus, as 
already stated, there are to-day actually more destitute persons 

296 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 297 

being maintained at the public expense outside the Poor Law 
than inside its scope. What seems clearly inevitable is the 
continuation of this evolution, and the transfer to these 
several Public Authorities of the remainder of each section 
of the destitute for whom the Board of Guardians is still 
providing. Those children of school age who are still being 
looked after by the Poor Law Authority will be increasingly 
entrusted to the Local Education Authority ; those sick 
persons who are still included among the paupers will more 
and more be merged in those already under treatment by the 
Local Health Authority ; those mentally defective and feeble- 
minded who still cumber the workhouses will presently be 
handed over to the Lunacy Authorities ; the remnant of the 
healthy aged who are still classed as paupers will inevitably 
be dealt with among the much larger number already under 
the care of the Local Pension Committee; whilst those able- 
bodied persons who are being relieved as vagrants or paupers, 
together with the " Unemployed " now on the registers of the 
Distress Committees, will come under the supervision and 
control of the new National Authority for the able-bodied, of 
which the beginning is seen in the Labour Exchanges Act of 
1909. This, we suggest, is plainly the lesson of the day. 

The gist of the Minority Eeport so far, at any rate, as the 
non-ablebodied are concerned may be put even more shortly. 
The Poor Law and the Poor Law Authorities — necessary at an 
earlier stage of Local Government, when destitution would 
otherwise have gone undealt with — can now simply be merged 
in the ordinary functions of municipal and county administra- 
tion. Only in this way can we put an end to the costly and 
extravagant overlapping that now exists between the Poor Law 
Authority, on the one hand, and all the other Authorities on 
the other. 

The Principle of Prevention 

Prom the Minority Pieport proposals, thus succinctly put, 
we have so far omitted what is really the kernel of the whole 
matter. These ordinary functions of municipal and county 
administration — the hospitals and schools and asylums and the 
domiciliary treatment of one kind or another — are costly ; and 
they are apparently especially costly the more consciously and 



298 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

the more systematically we administer them on the Principles 
of Curative Treatment, Compulsion, and Universal Provision. 
If we hand over to the Local Education Authorities those 
children for whom the Boards of Guardians still provide ; to 
the Local Health Authorities those infants, sick and infirm, who 
are still under the Poor Law ; to the Local Lunacy Authorities 
the feeble-minded still retained in the workhouse ; to the Local 
Pension Authorities the aged who have not yet got national 
pensions ; and to the Unemployment Authorities, local or 
national, the vagrants and other able-bodied persons who are 
still among the paupers, will not this involve, in comparison 
with the cost under the Board of Guardians, a great increase 
of public expenditure, and can any such increase be justified ? 

We need not, at this point, stay to argue that, owing to 
the practical abandonment of the "Principles of 1834," the 
administration of the Board of Guardians has itself become 
very costly ; that children in Poor Law Schools and patients 
in Poor Law Infirmaries often cost more per head than children 
in the boarding schools of the Local Education Authority and 
patients in the hospitals of the Local Health Authority ; and 
that seeing that the very existence of overlapping Public 
Authorities and duplication of work is, in itself, a wasteful 
extravagance, there is no reason to expect any increase in net 
cost from the mere fact of the transfer. 

In the view of the Minority Commissioners what is more 
important is that the whole development of Municipal and 
County administration, of which we may take the Public 
Health Acts as the leading example, is justified to the rate- 
payer and to the economist, 'by the still greater expense that it 
'prevents. The Minority Eeport embodies a whole series of pro- 
posals, which would amount, as has been expressly said, to 
setting on foot a systematic crusade against the very occurrence 
of destitution in any of its forms : against the destitution 
caused by Unemployment, the destitution caused by Old Age, 
the destitution caused by Feeble-mindedness- and Lunacy, the 
destitution caused by Ill-health and Disease, and the destitution 
caused by Neglected Infancy and Neglected Childhood. 

The deliberate and systematic adoption of this Principle 
of Prevention is the very basis of the Minority Eeport pro- 
posals. It is, in fact, this principle which underlies all the 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 299 

three "Principles of 1907," that we traced in a previous 
chapter as the outcome of all the practical experience of the 
last seventy-five years. The Local Authorities do not apply 
the Principle of Curative Treatment wholly, or even mainly, 
for the pleasure or the advantage of the individual sufferer ; 
what they have in view is the prevention of future evils to the 
community from the spread or recurrence of the disease, or 
the continuance of the disability. When they apply the 
Principle of Compulsion, they do so, not for its own sake, and 
not even for the immediate advantage that it brings, but in 
order to prevent greater evils to the community in the future, 
such as the existence of illiterate and wholly uneducated 
persons, or the outbreaks of violent lunatics, or the more subtle 
degradation of the Standard of Life by the procreation of the 
feeble-minded and the undermining competition of degenerates. 
If, in one service or another, the Principle of Universal Pro- 
vision is adopted, it is because we have become convinced, 
with regard to that service, that Universal Provision, either 
gratuitously or at a charge, is actually less expensive than any 
alternative ; or that it is of such great importance to the com- 
munity to " maximise the consumption " that it may be looked 
upon as really preventing some more costly evil. Throughout 
the whole field we find this Principle of Prevention at once 
limiting the real cost to the community, and justifying the out- 
lay. In some cases, indeed, the application of the Principle of 
Prevention is so successful as to bring to an end the very out- 
lay which it has inspired. To put up a small-pox hospital 
is costly; but it may end in freeing the community from 
small-pox, with the result that the building stands empty. By 
starting special treatment for ring-worm and favus, the most 
enterprising Local Education Authorities now see their way 
to the total elimination of these diseases from their schools. 

Now, the inherent vice of the vast expenditure at present 
incurred by our Poor Law Authorities is, to the economist, 
not its amount, nor its indiscriminateness, but the absence 
of this Principle of Prevention. Except with regard to the 
small minority of " indoor " or " boarded-out " children, and 
a small proportion of the sick, it cannot be said that the Poor 
Law Authorities make any attempt to prevent the occurrence 
of destitution. It is, indeed, not their business to do so. 



300 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

Unlike the Local Health Authority, the Destitution Authorities 
can do nothing to alter the social environment which is 
continually producing new destitution. They can do nothing 
for the man who is just beginning to suffer from phthisis, but 
who still earns wages and is not yet destitute ; though they 
know that, in a year or two, for lack of proper provision at 
the incipient stage, the man will become gradually worse, 
and will eventually enter the workhouse, long after the curable 
stage has passed, merely to die. Unlike the Local Education 
Authorities, the Destitution Authorities cannot reach out to 
prevent the neglect of children which will, in time, produce 
" unemployables." The whole of the action and the whole 
of the expenditure of the existing Boards of Guardians, and 
equally that of the new Public Assistance Authorities proposed 
in the Majority Eeport, must, in law, be confined to the 
relief of a destitution which has already occurred. 

If we wish to prevent the very occurrence of destitution, 
and effectively cure it when it occurs, we must look to its 
causes. Now, deferring for the moment any question of 
human fallibility, or the " double dose of original sin," which 
most of us are apt to ascribe to those who succumb in 
the struggle, the investigations of this Eoyal Commission 
reveal three broad roads along one or other of which practically 
all paupers come to destitution, namely : (a) sickness and 
feeble -mindedness, howsoever caused; (5) neglected infancy 
and childhood, whosoever may be in fault ; and (c) unemploy- 
ment (including " under -employment "), by whatsoever 
occasioned. If we could prevent sickness and feeble-minded- 
ness, howsoever caused, or effectually treat it when it occurs ; 
if we could ensure that no child, whatever its parentage, went 
without what we may call the National Minimum of nurture 
and training; and if we could provide that no able-bodied 
person was left to suffer from long - continued or chronic 
unemployment, we should prevent at least nine-tenths of 
the destitution that now costs the Poor Law Authorities of 
the United Kingdom nearly twenty millions per annum. The 
proposal of the Minority Eeport to break up the Poor Law, 
and to transfer its several services to the Local Education, 
Health, Lunacy, and Pension Authorities, and to a National 
Authority for the able-bodied, is to hand over the task of 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE RO YAL COMMISSION 301 

treating curativeiy the several sections of the destitute to 
Authorities charged tvith the prevention of the several causes of 
destitution from which those sections are suffering. This 
means a systematic attempt to arrest each of the principal 
causes of eventual destitution at the very outset, in the 
most incipient stage of its attack, which is always an attack of 
an individual human being, not of the family as a whole. It 
is one person, at the outset, who has the cough of incipient 
phthisis, not a whole family ; though if no preventive force 
is brought to bear, destitution will eventually set in and the 
whole family will be on our hands. There may be in the 
family neglected infants, neglected children, or feeble-minded 
persons lacking proper care or control, who may not be 
technically destitute, who may even be dependents of able- 
bodied men in work, but who, if left uncared for, will inevit- 
ably become the destitute of subsequent years. Hence it is 
vital that the Local Health Authority should be empowered 
and required to search out and ensure proper treatment 
for the incipient stages of all diseases. It is vital that the 
Lunacy Authority should be empowered and required to search 
out and ensure proper care and control for all persons certifiable 
as mentally defective, long before the family to which they 
belong is reduced to destitution. It is vital that the Local 
Education Authority should be empowered and required to 
search out and ensure, quite irrespective of the family's 
destitution, whatever Parliament may prescribe as the National 
Minimum of nurture and training for all children, the neglect 
of which will otherwise bring these children, when they grow 
up, themselves to a state of destitution. It is becoming no 
less clear that some Authority — the Minority Commissioners 
say a National Authority — must register and deal with the 
man who is unemployed, long before extended unemployment 
has demoralised him and reduced his family to destitution. 
It is important to put the issue quite clearly before the public. 
The systematic campaign for the prevention of the occurrence 
of destitution, that the Minority Commissioners propose that 
the community should undertake by grappling with its 
principal causes at the incipient stages, when they are just 
ieginning to affect one or other members of a family only, long 
before the family as a whole has sunk into the morass of 



302 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

destitution, involves treating the individual member who is 

affected, in respect of the cause of his complaint, even before 

he is " disabled " or in pecuniary distress. It means a 

systematic searching out of incipient cases, just as the Medical 

Officer of Health searches out infectious disease, or the School 

Attendance Officer searches out children who are not on the 

school roll, even before application is made.-^ 

At present the Local Education Authorities, the Local 

Health Authorities, and the Local Lunacy Authorities only 

feebly and imperfectly grapple with their task of arresting the 

causes of destitution in the child, the sick person, or the 

1 It may be objected that, in thus directing attention to the fact that it 
is always an individual wlio is attacked, not, at first, the family as a whole, 
we are ignoring the fact that there are, at any rate, the families to be dealt 
with which are now, as whole families, in a state of destitution ; and that, 
moreover, it must be anticipated, even Avith uniformly good administration of 
the preventive services, there will be not a few families who, as "missed cases," 
will have slipped into family destitution, without having had their descent 
arrested by the preventive action above described. "We suggest that each 
member of even such a family requires, for restoration, specialised treatment 
according to his or her need. The infant, the child of school age, the mentally 
defective, the sick, the infirm or incapacitated, the boy or girl above school age 
and finally the able-bodied and able-minded adult, each requires that something 
diS'erent should be done for him or her, if that individual is to be properly 
dealt with. The alternative, namely, to treat the family as a whole, means to 
place it in the General Mixed Workhouse, or merely to give it a dole of Outdoor 
Relief. This, indeed, is to-day the dominant practice ; and as such, has been 
condemned by Majority and Minority alike. It must, we think, be admitted 
tliat the several members of the family, with their very different needs, 
cannot be wisely treated without calling in the Public Authorities specialising 
on those heads, such as the Education, Health, Lunacy, Pension, and Unemploy- 
ment Authorities. This does not mean that the needs of the other members 
of the family will escape consideration. Assuming that the cause of the destitu- 
tion in which the family is plunged is the sickness of the breadwinner, and 
that the other members of the family are all normal, the Health Authority will, 
if it thinks domiciliary treatment desirable, not only give the necessary medical 
attendance, and look after the whole family environment by its Health Visitor, 
but, if there is no income, will grant (subject to the statutory rules and the 
Council's own Bye-laws) the home aliment that is requisite for the family 
maintenance. Would any one suggest that the Health Committee, with its 
Medical Officer and its Health Visitor should bo excluded from this case, 
or that it should be precluded from treating the case at home when the doctor 
reports that it can properly be so treated ? If there is a mentally defective 
person in such a family, ought the Lunacy Authority to be kept out ? If there 
are children of school age in it, is it wise to prevent the intervention of the 
Education Authority and its School Attendance OSicer ? It is the business 
of the oflUcers of the County or Town Council — in particular the Registrar of 
Public Assistance whom the Minority Report proposes — to see (a) that these 
Authorities do not overlap, (&) that they are all consulted as regards such 
members of the family as come within their respective spheres of treatment. We 
see no need for any general Poor Law or "Public Assistance Committee" 
at all ; unless, indeed, merely for registration and coordination. 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 303 

person of unsound mind, partly because they have only lately 
begun this part of their work, but principally because they, 
have not been legally empowered and legally required to do it. 
Moreover, they do not yet have forced on their attention, as 
they would if they had to maintain those who needed to be 
cured, the, extent to which they fail to ^prevent. If the Health 
Committee knew that it would have eventually to maintain 
the sick men whom it allowed to sink gradually into phthisis, 
as it has now practically to maintain persons who contract 
small-pox, it would look with a different eye upon the Medical 
Officer of Health's desire to " search out " every case of incipient 
phthisis whilst it is yet curable, to press upon the ignorant 
sufferer the best hygienic advice, and to do what is necessary 
in order to enable the insidious progress of the disease to be 
arrested. This does not entail that all diseases shall be treated 
free, any more than the Public Health supervision of sanitation 
entails that bad landlords shall have their house draiuage 
provided at the public cost. All the increased activity of the 
Public Health Authorities in searching out and treating sick- 
ness may coincide with a systematic enforcement of personal 
responsibility in respect to personal hygiene, and with regard 
to the maintenance in health of dependents, which we, in fact, 
recommend. The break-up of the Poor Law implies, in short, 
not only the adoption of a systematic crusade against the 
several preventable causes of destitution, but also a far more 
effective enforcement of parental responsibility than is at, 
present practicable. 

Viewed in this light, the fear of an increased charge upon 
public funds fades away. Prevention is not only better, but 
also much cheaper, than cure. "What the Minority Keport 
asserts — and the assertion cannot fairly be judged except by 
reading the elaborate survey of the facts and the whole careful 
argument, that it has now become possible, with the applica- 
tion of this Principle of Prevention by the various Public 
Authorities already at work, for destitution, as we now know it, 
to be abolished and extirpated from our midst, to the extent, at 
least, that plague and cholera and typhus and illiteracy and 
the labour of little children in cotton factories have already been 
abolished. If this confident assertion is only partially borne 
out by experience, it is clear that, far from involving any 



304 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

increase of aggregate cost to the community, the abolition of 
the Poor Law and of the Poor Law Authority will have been 
a most economical measure. 



The, " Moral Factor " in the Prohlem of Destitution 

There are those who see in this proposal to " break up " 
the Poor Law, and to entrust the conduct of the campaign 
against destitution to the Local Education Authority, the Local 
Health Authority, the Local Lunacy Authority, the Local 
Pension Authority, and the National or Local Authorities 
dealing with unemployment, an ignoring of what they call the 
" moral factor." To speak of the prevention of destitution in 
terms of the functions of these Authorities seems, to such 
critics, equivalent to implying that all destitution is due to 
causes over which the individual has no control — thus putting 
aside the contributing causes of idleness, extravagance, drunken- 
ness, gambling, and all sorts of irregularity of life. But this 
is to misconceive the position taken up by the Minority 
Commissioners, and to fail in appreciation of their proposals. 
They do not deny — indeed, what observer could possibly deny 
or minimise ? — the extent to which the destitution of whole 
families is caused or aggravated by personal defects and short- 
comings in one or other of their members, and most frequently 
in the husband and father upon whom the family maintenance 
normally depends. ■ 

The Minority Commissioners certainly do not ignore the 
fact that what has to be aimed at is not this or that improve- 
ment in material circumstances or physical comfort, but an 
improvement in personal character. To use a metaphor from 
the card table, this improvement of personal character in the 
human subject is the " odd trick " for which social reformers 
are struggling, and by which alone success can be secured. 
But we cannot win the " odd trick " without winning the six 
others. 

Two considerations may make the position clear. However 
large may be the part in producing destitution that we may 
choose to ascribe to the " moral factor " — to defects or short- 
cominss in the character of the unfortunate victims themselves 
— the fact that the investigations of the Eoyal Commission 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 305 

indicate that at least nine-tenths of all the paupers arrive at 
pauperism along one or other of three roads — the Eoad of 
Neglected Childhood, the Eoad of Sickness and Feeble-minded- 
ness, and the Eoad of Unemployment (including " Under- 
employment "), must give us pause. If it can be said that it is 
to some defect of moral character or personal shortcoming that 
the sinking into destitution at the bottom of the road is, in a 
final analysis, more correctly to be ascribed — though on this 
point which among us is qualified to be a judge? — it is 
abundantly clear that the assumed defect or shortcoming 
manifests itself in, or at least is accompanied by, either child- 
neglect, sickness, feeble-mindedness, or unemployment. These 
are the roads by which the future pauper travels. Moreover, 
if these outward and visible signs of the inward and sj)iritual 
shortcomings are sometimes caused by these latter, it is at 
least equally true that the defects of character are aggravated 
and confirmed by their evil accompaniments.- 

It is by dealing with the individual through these mani- 
festations or accompaniments of his inward defect, that we 
can most successfully bring to bear our curative and re- 
storative influences. What is certain is that if we could put an 
end to neglected infancy, neglected childhood, and neglected 
youth, by whomsoever occasioned ; if we could prevent all 
preventable sickness and infirmity, however caused ; if we 
could either ameliorate or segregate the feeble-minded ; if we 
could make impossible any long- continued unemployment and 
any chronic " under-employment," whatever its origin, we 
should have prevented the occurrence of nine-tenths of the 
destitution that is now annually created. 

The second consideration is that all experience shows that 
it is impossible even to begin to deal successfully with 
personal character until we dismiss the idea of reheving 
destitution as such, and go boldly for a definite poHcy of 
preventing or arresting the operation of each separate cause of 
destitution. Take, for instance, the destitution brought about 
by drink. Under the Poor Law — under any Poor Law — the 
drunkard cannot be touched until he is in a state of destitu- 
tion. A man may be neglecting his children, leaving his wife 
without medical attendance, or maltreating a feeble-minded 
child, and yet no Poor Law Authority can do anything to 

X 



3o6 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

prevent the destitution which will probably ensue. It is only 
when the man is suffering from delirium tremens that he is 
taken into the workhouse, put into a clean bed, with two 
attendants to look after him, dosed with the costly and 
agreeable morphia, and then, when he has recovered from his 
debauch and can return to his work, let out to begin his evil 
courses again. Under the system proposed by the Minority 
Eeport of making the Education Authority, the Public Health 
Authority, and the Lunacy Authority responsible for searching 
out the incipient destitution of the neglected child, the sick 
wife, and the maltreated feeble-minded child, the drinking 
head of the family would have been called to book long before 
he found himself in the comfortable quarters of the workhouse. 
Indeed, it seems apparent that, once the Public Health 
Authority was responsible for searching out diseases, one of 
the first diseases which would call for systematic prevention 
and cure would be chronic alcoholism. 

Take, again, the destitution brought about by unemploy- 
ment. So long as this is relieved by a Destitution Authority 
there is no chance of enforcing the responsibility of every 
able-bodied person to maintain himself and his family. We 
may, of course, deter men from getting relief out of the rates, 
but we shall not deter them from being parasitic on other 
people, or from allowing their dependants to sink into a state of 
destitution. If, however, we had an Unemployment Authority 
responsible for either finding a man a job or placing him in 
training, we could for the first time strictly enforce on every 
man and woman who were, as a matter of fact, failing to 
maintain themselves and their dependants, the obligation to 
make use of this organ of the State. When the visitor from 
the Children's Care Committee discovered an underfed child, 
or the Health Visitor discovered a woman about to be confined 
without proper nursing and medical attendance, it would be 
no use for the man to say he was out of work. It would be 
unnecessary to inquire why he was out of work, whether his 
unemployment was due to his own inefficiency or to the 
bankruptcy of his late employer. He would simply be 
required to be at the Labour Exchange, where he would either 
be provided with a job or found the means of improving his 
working capacity while he was waiting for a job. If it were 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 307 

discovered by actual observation of the man's present behaviour 
that there was in him a grave moral defect not otherwise 
remediable, he would have to submit himself, in a detention 
colony, to a treatment which would be at once curative and 
deterrent in the old Poor Law sense. It is, in fact, exactly 
because it has been impossible to grapple with the moral factor 
hy merely relieving destitution that experienced workers among 
the poor have turned away from the whole conception of a Poor 
Law and the relief of destitution, in favour of a systematic 
attempt to prevent the occurrence of destitution. 



The Sphere of Voluntary Agencies in the Prevention 

of Destitution 

Both the Majority Eeport and the Minority Eeport lay 
stress on the importance of enlisting the assistance of 
voluntary agencies and private charity in the task of dealing 
with destitution. Both schemes of reform allot a large and 
important sphere to these auxiliaries. But there is the widest 
possible difference, both in principle and in practicable applica- 
tions, between the two proposals. 

To the Majority what seems desirable is that the army of 
destitute persons needing assistance should be divided into two 
classes — those who can best be helped by private charity, and 
those for whom public assistance is most appropriate. These 
two classes should, it is asserted, be kept, from the outset, 
wholly separate, to be dealt with by two vertically co-ordinate 
authorities — the Public Assistance Committee, an official body, 
dispensing public funds, and the Voluntary Aid Committee, 
made up of voluntary charitable workers, dispensing private 
funds. Certain classes of applicants for assistance who come 
for the first time are to be required, whether they wish it or 
not, to be assigned to the Voluntary Aid Committee, which is 
to be free to deal with the cases as it chooses. Those only 
whom it refuses to aid, or refuses to continue to aid, are to 
be relegated to the Public Assistance Committee, which is 
to be bound to make its aid in some way "less eligible" 
than that which the Voluntary Aid Committee would have 
given. 



3o8 ENGLISH POOR LAW POLICY 

The explanation of this remarkable proposal, with its 
assumed separation of the poor into what we may not unfairly 
call the sheep and the goats, lies in the fact that it is to private 
charity, organised in the Voluntary Aid Committee, that the 
Majority Commissioners look for what they call " preventive 
work." But this is to use the word " preventive " as meaning, 
not in the least what the Minority Commissioners mean by 
that term, but merely the saving of selected persons from the 
stigma of pauperism and from the assumedly unsatisfactory 
method of treatment by the Public Authority. This difference 
in the use of the word " prevent " runs through all the argu- 
ments and proposals of the two Eeports, and explains many of 
the divergencies between their specific recommendations. 
When the word " prevention " is used in the Majority Eeport 
it nearly always means the prevention of pauperism ; whenever 
it is used in the Minority Eeport it invariably means the 
prevention of destitution. 

The Minority Commissioners dissent emphatically from 
the proposal to separate the poor into two classes, and to free 
the Public Authority from all responsibility for the treatment 
of the one, whilst excluding the Voluntary workers from 
all share in the treatment of the other. Such a proposal has, 
among other objectionable features, the cardinal defect that it 
obscures the importance, and actually stands in the way of any 
effective measures for preventing the occurrence of destitution. 
It is always possible for Voluntary Agencies to save selected 
persons from pauperism; but such Agencies can seldom do 
anything to prevent, even in these selected persons, the 
occurrence of destitution. When a phthisical man, unable any 
longer to earn wages, is so far brought low as to apply for 
assistance, the Voluntary Aid Committee may help him to live, 
may procure him medical advice, may gain him admission to 
a Voluntary Sanatorium, if a vacancy can be found ; and may, 
eventually, help his already infected family to bury him. But 
all this is " Early Victorian " in its conception. It belongs to 
the time when sickness had to be accepted as the " Visitation 
of God." The Voluntary Aid Committee, in thus preventing 
that man from becoming a pauper, will have done nothing 
towards preventing the destitution with which he has already 
been smitten before he comes to them, and will have 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 309 

accomplislied nothing towards saving others from succumbing 
in the same way. The destitution in this case might have 
been prevented if the Local Health Authority had pursued 
more energetically its campaign against preventable sickness ; 
if it had so improved the environment as to bring sunshine 
and fresh air into the working-class street, and insisted on good 
sanitation of the dwelling-house ; if it had " searched out " the 
case, so as to discover it long before application was made, 
when the disease was still in its incipient stage, before destitu- 
tion had set in, and before the rest of the family was infected ; 
if the patient had, at this early stage, been, by a short sojourn 
in the Municipal Infirmary, effectively taught how to live ; if 
his home had then been kept under systematic observation ; 
and if the National Labour Exchange had found him suitable 
outdoor employment. But these things are out of the reach 
of Voluntary Agencies, as they are beyond the ken of any 
Destitution Authority. 

The Minority Commissioners assign to Voluntary Agencies 

quite a different sphere of activity — one, indeed, which the 

more progressive among them have already claimed as their 

own. The time has gone by when we can separate the poor 

into two classes, so as to confine the assistance of the Voluntary 

Agencies to one only of these classes, the smaller of the two, 

and so as to restrict their work to thfe relief of a destitution 

which has already occurred, instead of the more hopeful task 

of helping to prevent the very occurrence of destitution, by 

arresting its several causes. It is impossible in the twentieth 

century for the Local Authority to part with its responsibility 

as regards any of the inhabitants of its district ; but, on the 

other hand, it is coming more and more clearly to be seen that 

it is impracticable for it to fulfil this responsibility except by 

the aid of a large number of volunteer workers. The modern 

relation between the public authority and the voluntary 

worker is one of systematically organised partnership under 

expert direction. Thus, according to the proposals of the 

Minority Report, every case requiring notice or action of any 

sort will be dealt with both by voluntary workers and by the 

public authority, each in its own appropriate sphere, and each 

according to its special opportunities. The children of the 

district will not be divided between a Voluntary Aid Committee 



3IO ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

and the Public Assistance Committee, some being dealt with 
wholly by the one and the rest wholly by the other. The 
Local Education Authority must remain wholly responsible for 
preventing any kind of neglect in all the children of the dis- 
trict; but we already see its work, in the most progressive 
districts, dependent for its success upon the co-operation of a 
whole series of School Managers and Children's Care Com- 
mittees, Country Holiday Fund Committees and " Spectacle 
Committees," and Apprenticeship Committees and what not. 
The Local Health Authority cannot cede to any Voluntary 
Agencies its responsibilities for the maintenance in health of 
all the population of its district ; but the Medical Ofl&cer of 
Health needs to recruit, and is, in scores of towns, already 
recruiting, a whole army of volunteers in the Health Visitors, 
the organisers of " Schools for Mothers," the nursing associa- 
tions, the managers of convalescent homes, the " after-care " 
committees, the committees of voluntary institutions for 
cripples and ejpileptics, and so on. Even with regard to the 
newer public service in connection with mentally defective 
children, aged pensioners, or the unemployed, abundant use ia 
already beginning to be made of the voluntary worker. The 
Minority Commissioners look, under their scheme, for an 
enormous extension of the sphere for volunteer work of this 
sort, organised in connection with one or other of the Com- 
mittees of the County or Country Borough Council. Each 
Committee needs its own fringe of voluntary workers, who 
will act as its eyes and ears and fingers, in keeping touch with 
the huge masses of population with which it has to deal, and 
will enable it both to " search out " all the cases that need 
attention, irrespective of any application, and to invest the 
official machinery with that touch of personal interest and 
human sympathy which is so necessary for its successful work- 
ing. And that fringe is already there. It is significant that 
the immediate result of the assumption by the London Educa- 
tion Authority of its new duties of feeding and medically 
inspecting the children of school age was the call, by the 
London County Council, for 7000 volunteers to fill its Children's 
Care Committees alone. The Minority Eeport involves, in 
short, vastly greater numbers of voluntary workers than does the 
Majority Keport, and assigns to them both a more important 



MINORITY REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION 311 

and a more hopeful sphere than the helping of particular 
individuals to " keep off the rates." ^ 

1 Here, it need hardly be said, lies the sphere for the " Guilds of Help " and 
" Councils of Social Welfare " which are springing up in so many towns of Great 
Britain, and which the proposals of the Majority Report would destroy. The 
"human element," so essential to all effective preventive action, can, in our 
judgment, be raised to a higher effectiveness, not only by its intimate associa- 
tion with the different departments of the public authority responsible for 
actually preventing the occurrence of destitution in the city, but also, at any 
rate in the large towns, by an improved voluntary organisation in each locality 
on a federal basis. Such an organisation might usefully include, in a federal 
union for mutual assistance, any local Health Societies, Children's Care or 
Apprenticeship Associations ; Fresh Air Funds or Country Holiday Societies ; the 
local charitable almshouses, hospitals, infirmaries, or convalescent homes ; such 
orphanages, industrial schools, and such institutions for the physically or 
mentally defective as are available ; the charitable agencies connected with the 
various Churches ; any systematic visitors or workers among the poor ; and, in 
fact, all the benevolent agencies in the locality concerned with those in need or 
in distress. A voluntary federal organisation, such as is here suggested, has 
already proved to be of great use, in one city after another, in (a) enlisting and 
allocating to specific services new recruits for personal work ; (TS) helping to 
organise, for each branch of the work of the Town or County Council its oivn 
necessary fringe of volunteer workers ; (c) placing in touch with these workers 
and with the public officials and committees all the available voluntary institu- 
tions dealing with particular kinds of cases ; (c^) making representations to the 
TowTi or County Council on any point in the public service in which improve- 
ments can be efifected ; and (e) initiating the provision of whatever additional 
institutional accommodation is found to be required. 



CHAP TEE VIII 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 

We may now attempt to sum up the position as it presents 
itself, after the deliverance of the Eoyal Commission, to the 
statesman and to the public opinion of 1910. 

There is first the chaos of authorities, the overlapping of 
functions and the duplication of services, resulting in the ex- 
penditure, out of rates and taxes in the United Kingdom, on 
the maintenance, schooling, and medical attendance of the 
poorer classes of nearly seventy millions sterling annually. 
During the past five years, even whilst the Eoyal Commission 
was sitting, this multiplication of overlapping authorities has 
proceeded at a great pace. In 1905 the Unemployed Work- 
men Act created a rival authority for relieving the able-bodied 
man. In 1906 the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, in 

1907 the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, and in 

1908 the Education (Scotland) Act and the Children Act, set 
up the Local Education Authority as a rival to the Poor Law 
Authority in regard to providing food, medical attendance, and 
all other necessaries for children found destitute at school. 
In 1908, too, the Old Age Pensions Act established a rival 
authority for the maintenance of the destitute aged. Mean- 
while, the Local Health Authorities have been told to take 
over the destitute man who has phthisis, and to extend in 
many directions the range of their work ; the Departmental 
Committee on Vagrancy has declared that a new authority must 
be found for the vagrants, and the Ptoyal Commission on the 
Care and Control of the Feeble-minded has come to the very 
authoritative conclusion that all grades and kinds of mentally 
defective persons must be taken out of the Poor Law altogether. 
The result is that, already in 1910, the number of persons 

312 



SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 313 

being actually fed at the public expense by the Local Education 
Authorities, the Local Health Authorities, the Local Lunacy 
Authorities, the Local Unemployment Authorities, and the 
Local Pension Authorities, exceeds, in the aggregate, the numher 
of persons heing fed hy the Poor Law Authorities. For every 
separate section of the pauper host there are now at least two 
Public Authorities at work — sometimes three or four Public 
Authorities — with duplicated machinery, overlapping services, 
officers competing with each other on rival principles of action, 
in not a few cases simultaneously providitig for the same persons 
loithout knowing of each other's work. 

The Poor Law Authorities themselves, and the bulk of their 
work, the Eoyal Commission found extremely unsatisfactory, 
and are unanimous in condemning, not so much from any 
personal shortcomings of the 24,000 guardians as from the 
nature of the task to which they had been set. The assistance 
that they dispense, by its very nature, comes too late to be 
preventive of the occurrence of destitution, and, in the majority 
of cases, too late to be curative. Whatever may be decided as to 
its successor, it is clear that the existing Poor Law system, and 
the existing Poor Law Authority, must, to use the expressive 
words of Mr. Balfour's election address, be " scrapped." 

The Majority Commissioners hold, on the assumption that 
every case of pauperism implies a moral defect, that there 
should be, in each locahty, one Authority and only one 
Authority to deal with persons requu-ing maintenance from 
public funds. They, therefore, recommend the establishment of 
a new " Destitution Authority " to deal only with persons who 
are destitute, and only when they are destitute ; and for such 
persons to provide, from birth to burial, in distinctively Poor 
Law Institutions, or under distinctively Poor Law officials, 
all that is required. It is admitted that this involves 
the repeal of the Unemployed "Workmen Act and the 
Education (Provision of Meals) Act. We must leave 
politicians to judge whether it is practicable to thrust the 
unemployed workman, and the child found hungry at school, 
back into the Poor Law, even if the Poor Law is called by 
another name. But even if this were done, the Majority 
Eeport would still leave the overlap as regards the destitute 
aged which is involved in the Old Age Pensions Act; the 



314 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



overlap as regards the destitute sick which is involved in the 
evergrowing activities of the 700 rate-maintained municipal 
hospitals of the Local Health Authorities; the overlap with 
regard to destitute children which is involved by the activities 
of the Local Education Authorities and the Home Office under 
the Industrial Schools Acts, and now under the Children Act. 
And the Majority Commissioners cannot, it appears, make up 
their minds ^ whether or not they wish the recommendations 
of the Eoyal Commission on the Peeble-minded to be carried 
into law, and thus end the overlap between the Poor Law 
Authority and the Lunacy Authority. 

The Majority Eeport purports to give the new "Public 
Assistance Authority " some guidance as to policy. It is to 
relieve none but those at present entitled to relief, and 
therefore, in all cases, to wait until destitution has set in. 
Thus the aid will, as now, come too late to prevent or to cure. 
On the other hand, the "deterrent" attitude of 1834 is to be 
given up ; the workhouse is to be abolished ; and " curative 
and restorative treatment," at home or in an appropriate in- 
stitution, is to be afforded to every case. Yet in order to 
afford to certain classes of applicants methods of relief and 
treatment more suitable than any Public Assistance Authority 
is to be allowed to afford, a complete system of Voluntary Aid 
Committees is to be set up, and to such Committees these par- 
ticular applicants are to be required to apply, whether or not 
they prefer charity to public aid. 

Against these proposals of the Majority Eeport the 
Minority Commissioners protest that they will not put a stop 
to the calamitous and extravagant overlapping of services and 
duplication of work which now exists or to the demoralising 
chaos that prevails as to recovery of cost. Moreover, the 
Minority Commissioners hold that if the community restricts 
itself to relieving persons at the crisis of their destitution, and 
this is a necessary condition of any Poor Law, or of the action 
of any Destitution Authority, whatever its name, the com- 
munity cannot, without grave financial danger, and still graver 
danger to character, depart from the principles of 1834, 
However unpopular may be the doctrine, it is still true that if 
destitute persons are to be given " curative and restorative 

^ See Appendix B (extract from the Minority Report for Scotland). 



SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 315 

treatment " without deterrent conditions and without the 
stigma of pauperism, a constantly increasing number of persons 
will, unless they are in some way prevented from sinking into 
destitution, come in and out of the Poor Law as it suits their 
convenience, to their own grave demoralisation and at a 
ruinous cost to the nation. But the heart and conscience of 
the community will not tolerate the subjection of all the 
million paupers indiscriminately to deterrent conditions, 
especially as these have now been proved to be seriously 
detrimental in their effects. The whole phraseology of the 
Majority Eeport, and its proposals themselves, afford con- 
vincing testimony to the necessity of giving up the idea of a 
" deterrent " Poor Law. And the Majority Eeport gives us 
no substitute for this deterrence — unless, indeed, it can really 
be imagined that the operation of the Voluntary Aid Committees 
is somehow to protect us. 

The only effective substitute for deterrence is, the Minority 
Commissioners suggest, the Principle of Prevention — prevention, 
that is, not merely of pauperism, but of the very occurrence of 
destitution. This negatives the very idea of a Destitution 
Authority, whatsoever its designation or its policy. It is in 
vain to hope that any Poor Law, or any Destitution Authority, 
however improved, can ever prevent or even diminish 
destitution; because, confined as it is to dealing with a 
destitution which has occurred, it is inherently precluded 
by its very nature from attacking any of the causes which 
produce the destitution that is perpetually coming on its hands. 
Thus, the twenty millions sterling now spent annually in 
the United Kingdom on the mere relief of destitution do 
practically nothing to prevent the creation, year by year, of 
new masses of destitution. Even the educational work which 
the Poor Law Authorities do for the Poor Law children is 
largely vitiated by their inherent disability to exercise any 
supervision over the life of the child before and after the 
crisis of destitution. The greater part of the expenditure on 
the Poor Law Medical Service is, so far as any gain to the 
health of the nation is concerned, wasted because no sick' 
person can legally be treated in the incipient stage of his 
disease when it may still be curable ; the Poor Law doctor 
must always wait until destitution has set in ! This — so 



3 1 6 ENGLISH POOR LA W FOLIC V 

the Minority Commissioners claim — must necessarily be the 
same in the case of the " Public Assistance Authority " 
proposed in the Majority Eeport, or, indeed, in the case of 
anybody set to administer a Poor Law, On the other hand, 
the fact that universal provision of some services to all persons, 
whether destitute or not, has been adopted by Parliament, has 
led to a duplication and confusions of functions between the 
old Poor Law Authority and the new Preventive Authorities. 
This daily-increasing overlap and duplication can only be ended 
by either stripping the new Preventive Authorities of functions 
entrusted to them within the last few years by Parliament 
— which is plainly impossible — or by abolishing the Poor 
Law. Hence the only safe, as well as the only advantageous 
way out of this confusion is to go forward on the Principle of 
Prevention. This Principle of Prevention may take the form, 
on the one hand, of altering the environment, on the other, of 
treating the individual. But if the cost of curative treatment, 
or even of altering the environment, is to be borne by the 
community, it is essential, on grounds of economy, that there 
should be a searching out of all incipient cases and such a 
disciplinary supervision as will prevent persons from becoming 
destitute through neglected infancy, neglected childhood, pre- 
ventable illness, and voluntary unemployment. 

In this disciplinary supervision over those who repeatedly 
fall into the morass of destitution, or who, by failing to fulfil 
their social obligations, show signs of entering upon the 
descent into that morass, we see a more humane, as well as a 
more effective form of "deterrence" than that of the 1834 
Poor Law. The newer preventive authorities deter from 
falling into destitution, not by fear of what will happen w^hen 
the fall has taken place, but by timely insistence on the per- 
formance of the social duties that will prevent the fall. The 
parents who, under the pressure of the Local Education 
Authority, are induced and compelled to send their children 
to school from 5 to 14 years of age are not only effectually 
" deterred " from living on their children's earnings, but are 
also prevented from so far neglecting their offspring as to fail 
to get them to school regularly and punctually, or to fail to 
maintain them in a state fit for admission to school, according 
to a standard that is constantly rising. In some districts the 



SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION ^i^ 

Local Education Authority has even gone far, by means of 
inspection, instruction, exhortation, and, in the last resort, 
prosecution, towards effectually "deterring" parents from 
letting their children become verminous. Deterrent action 
of this kind by the Local Education Authority has been 
accompanied by corresponding action by the Local Health 
Authority, which has — again by inspection, instruction, 
exhortation, and, in the last resort, prosecution — induced 
many occupiers of tenement dwellings to prevent these from 
remaining verminous or otherwise grossly below the current 
standard of sanitation. This form of deterrence it is that lies 
at the base of all our Public Health and Factory Legislation ; 
a deterrence that leads the owners and occupiers to bestir 
themselves to keep their dwellings up to the current local 
standard of healthiness, the occupiers of factories to maintain 
these in accordance with the requirements of the law, and the 
operatives in unhealthy trades to observe the precautions pre- 
scribed against disease. The same idea of a preventive 
deterrence will inspire the Local Lunacy Authorities, once 
they are made responsible for the feeble-minded, to insist on 
proper care and control for those helpless girl mothers whom 
the Poor Law must perforce leave free to propagate a feeble- 
minded race. In the same way the Minority Commissioners 
believe that the new National Authority for Unemployment, 
of which we may detect the beginnings in the National 
Labour Exchange, will be able to " deter " men from becoming 
unemployed, not only by actually preventing many unnecessary 
breaches of continuity in employment (by equalising, year by 
year, the aggregate demand for labour, regularising employment 
in the seasonal trades, and " decasualising " the casual labourer 
in the ways elabyrately described in the Eeport), but also by 
putting the necessary pressure on the will of those who are 
" born tired " or who have become " unemployable," either to 
accept and retain the situations that will be definitely offered 
to them, or else to submit themselves to disciplinary training, 
with the reformatory Detention Colony in the background. 

We venture to end this exposition of the philosophy of 
the Minority Eeport of 1909 by a repetition of the words 
that we used, perhaps prematurely, to describe those " Principles 
of 1907," to which, as we have demonstrated, three-quarters 



3i8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

of a century of experience has empirically brought the Local 
Government Board itself. These principles, we pointed out — 
in contrast to the laisser fairs oi 1834 — " embody the doctrine 
of a mutual obligation between the individual and the 
community. The universal maintenance of a definite minimum 
of civilised life — seem to be in the interest of the community 
no less than in that of the individual — becomes the joint 
responsibility of an indissoluble partnership. The community 
recognises a duty in the curative treatment of all who are in 
need of it — a duty most clearly seen in the medical treatment 
of the sick and the education of the children. Once this 
corporate respaasibility is accepted, it becomes a question 
whether tlte universal j^rovision of any necessary common 
service is not the^mosT'advantageous method of fulfilling such 
responsibility — a method which has, at any rate, the advantage 
of leaving unimpaired the salutary inequality between the 
thrifty and the unthrifty. It is, moreover, an inevitable 
complement of this corporate responsibility, and of the recogni- 
tion of the indissoluble partnership, that new and enlarged 
obligations, unknown in a state of laisser faire, are placed upon 
the individual — such as the obligation of the parent to keep 
his children in health, and to send them to school at the time 
and in the condition insisted upon ; the obligation of the young 
person to be well conducted and to learn; the obligation of 
the adult not to infect his environment, and to submit when 
required to hospital treatment. To enforce these obligations 
— all new since 1834 — upon the individual citizen, experience 
shows that some other pressure on his volition is required than 
merely leaving him alone. Hence the community, by the 
combination of the principles of Curative Treatment, 
Uni^'ersal Provision and Compulsion, deliberately ' weights the 
alternatives,' in the guise of a series of experiments upon 
volition. The individual retains as much freedom of choice as 
— if not more than — he ever enjoyed before. But the father 
finds it made more easy for him to get his children educated, 
and made more disagreeable for him to neglect them. It is 
made more easy for the mother to keep her infants in health, 
and more disagreeable for her to let them die. The man 
suffering from disease finds it made more easy for him to get 
cured without infecting his neighbours, and more disagreeable 



^ UMMA RY AND CONCL US I ON 3 1 9 

for him not to take all the necessary precautions. The labour 
exchanges and the farm colonies aim at making it more easy 
for the wage-earner to get a situation ; perhaps the reformatory 
establishment, with powers of detention, is needed to make it 
more disagreeable for him not to accept and retain that 
situation." It is, in short, this doctrine of a mutual obligation 
— this fundamental principle that social health is not a matter 
for the individual alone, nor for the Government alone, but 
depends essentially on the joint responsibility of the individual 
and the community for the maintenance of a definite minimum 
of civilised life — that inspires every detail of the Minority 
Report. 



APPENDIX A 

MEMORANDUM BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD AS TO 
THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES FOR POOR LAW PURPOSES AND 
THE OUT-RELIEF ORDERS IN FORCE AT THE END OF 
THE YEARS 1847, 1871, 1906. 

The following table exhibits all tbe umons, incorporations, and separate 
parishes which existed for Poor Law purposes on the 31st December in 
the years 1847, 1871, and 1906 respectively. "Where any such union, 
etc., did not exist at the end of 1847 or ceased to exist before the end of 
1906 a note has been made in the margin showing, as nearly as the 
materials readily available will permit,^ the position of the parishes 
comprised in the union, etc., with respect to the Poor Law administration 
during the periods when the unions, etc., were non-existent. 

The table shows the nature of the Poor Law (administrative) area at 
each of the three selected dates. The letters S.P. indicate that at the 
relevant date the Poor Law area was a separate parish administered by a 
board of guardians under the Poor Law Acts Amendment Act 1834 ; 
L.P. that the area was a separate parish administered under the provisions 
of a Local Act ; G.I. that the area was an incorporation formed under 
Gilbert's Act (22 Geo. 3 c. 83) ; L.I. that the area was an incorporation 
formed under a Local Act. The letter U indicates that at the relevant 
date the Poor Law area was a union formed under the Act of 1834, 
though before or after that date the area was of another nature, as indicated. 
Where no letters in heavy type are inserted, the Poor Law area was formed 
as a union under the Act of 1834, and no change in its nature had taken 
place. 

The table shows whether an Outdoor Relief Prohibitory, Outdoor 
Labour Test, or Outdoor Eelief Regulation Order was in force in each of 
the unions, etc., at the selected dates. The letter P indicates that at the 
relevant date a Prohibitory Order was in force ; T, that an Outdoor 
Labour Test Order was so in force ; and R, that a Regulation Order was 

1 There have, of course, been very numerous alterations of union boundaries, by 
the transfer of parishes or parts of parishes, which it has not been practicable to take 
into account. 

321 Y 



322 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



so in force. In some cases it is difficult for various reasons to state 
positively whether a Prohibitorj'-j Test, or Regulation Order was in force. 
Such cases have been marked with a " ? " 

In a few cases (distinguished in the table by the letter C) there 
were in force, at the end of 1847, regulations in regard to a labour test 
for outdoor paupers, which are set out in the Appendix at the end of 
the table. 

In the cases of Nottingham and St. Pancras the outdoor relief regula- 
tions at the end of 1847 were in special terms. These regulations are 
set out in the Appendix. 

It is to be noted that at the end of 1847, about 220 separate parishes 
(principally in the North of England, about 150 being in the West Riding 
of Yorkshire) were still outside any incorporation or union, and were 
managed under the provisions of 43 Eliz. c. 2. At 1871 these parishes 
had nearly all been included in various unions, only the four Inns of 
Court ^ and the Charterhouse remaining. In 1877 the Charterhouse was 
added to Holborn Union. 

Local Government Board, S.W. 
10<A May 1907. 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Aberayron 


P. 


P. 


P. 




A-bergavenny 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


.See Bedwellty. 


Aberystwith 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Abingdon . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Albans, St. 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Alcester . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Alderbury. (See Salis- 










bury. 










Alnwick . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Alresford . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Alston-witb-Garrigill . 


P. (S.P.) 


P. (S.P.) 


P. (S.P.) 




Alstonfield 


Nil. (G.I.) 


' * • 


• •■ 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Ashbourne and 
Leek Unions. 


Alton 


P. 


P. 


P. 


.See Headley. 


Altrincham. <See Buck- 










low. 










Alverstoke and Gosport 


Nil. (G.I.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Incorporation dissolved in 
1868 and board of guardians 
for separate parish declared. 


Amersbam 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Amesbury . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ampthill . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


5ee Woburn. 


Andover . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Anglesey . 


T. 


R. 


P. 


<See Holyhead. 


Arundel . 


Nil. (G I.) 


• •• 


... 


Dissolved in 1869, and included 
in East Preston Union. 


Asaph, St. 


P. 


P. 


P. 





See the proviso to sec. 43 of the Divided Parishes, etc., Act 1876. 



APPENDIX 



323 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Not«3. 


Ash . , . . 


C. (G.I.) 


... 


• •• 


Dissolved in 1869, and parishes 
added to Famham, Guild- 
ford, and Hartley Wintney 
Unions. 


Ashbourne 


NU. 


P. 


P. 


See Alstonfield. 


Ashby-de-la-Zouch 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Ashford, East . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ashford, West . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Ashton-uuder-Lyne . 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Aston 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Atcham 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Shrewsbury. 


Atherstone 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Bedworth. 


Auckland . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




AusteU, St. 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Axbridge . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Axmicster 


P.T. 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Aylesbury . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Aylsham . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Aysgarth . 




P. 


P. 


Formed in 1869 out of parishes 
in Bainbridge Incorporation 
with two or three other 
parishes. 


Bainbridge 


Nil. (G.I.) 


... 


• •• 


Dissolved in 1869. See Ays- 
garth Union. 


Bakewell . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bala .... 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Banbury . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bangor and Beaumaris 


C. 


P. 


P. 




Barnet 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bamsley . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


Formed in 1849. In 1847 all 
parishes were managed under 
43 Eliz. 


Barnstaple 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T 




Barrow-in-Furness 


... 


... 


R. 


Formed in 1876. Formerly 
part of Ulverston Union. 


Barrow-upon-Soar 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Barton Regis 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Named "Clifton Union" till 
1877. Dissolved in 1904. 
Parishes added to Bristol, 
Chipping Sodbury, and 
Thornbury Poor Law Unions. 


Barton-upon-Irwell 


... 


R. 


R. 


Formed in 1849. Formerly 
part of Chorlton Union. 


Barwick in Elmet 


Nil. (G.I.) 






Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Great Ouseburn, 
Leeds, Pontefract, Tadcaster, 
and Wetherby Unions. 


Basford 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Basingstoke 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Bath 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Battle 




P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Beaminster 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bedale 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Bedford . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Bedminster. See, Long 










Ashton. 











324 



ENGLISH POOR LA IV POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Bedwellty . 


... 


P. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1849. Formerly 
part of Abergavenny Union. 


Bedworth . 


mi. (G.I.) 






Dissolved in 1851. Parishes 
added to Atherstone, Foles- 
hill, Hinckley, Liitterworth, 
Market Bosworth, and Rugby 
Unions. 


Belford 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Bellingham 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Belper 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Berkhampstead . 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Bermondsey (formerly 


Nil. (U.) 


E. (U.) 


?R. (S.P.) 


Named "St. Olave's Union" 


St. Olave's Union). 








till 1904. Now named Ber- 
mondsey Parish. See also 
St. Mary, Rotherhithe, and 
St. Mary Magdalen, Ber- 
mondsey. 


Bermondsey, St. Mary 


NU. (S.P.) 


... 


• •• 


Included in St. Olave's Union 


Magdalen Parish. 








(now called Bermondsey 
Parish) in 1869. 


Berwick-on-Tweed 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bethnal Green . 


Nil.{B.V.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




Beverley . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bichester . 


P. 


P 


P. 




Bideford . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Biggleswade 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Billericay . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Billesdon . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Bingham . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Birkenhead . , 


... 


R. 


R. 


Formed in 1861. Formerly 
part of Wirrall Union. 


Birmingham 


Ml. {L.-P.) 


R. (L.P.) 


R. (L.P.) 




Bishop Stortford 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Blaby 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Blackburn 




NU. 


R. 


R. 




Blandford 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Blean 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Blofield 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Blything 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Bodmin 




C. 


P. 


P. 




Bolton 




Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Bootle 




C. 


P. 


P. 




Bosmere and Claydon . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Boston 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bougbton, Great. See 










Tarvin. 










Bourn 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Brackley . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Bradfield . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Bradford, Wilts 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bradford, Yorks 


T. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


?R. (S.P.) 


Parishes in Bradford Union 
united in 1897 with certain 
parishes in North Bierley 
Union-to form the Township 
of Bradford. For Poor Law 
purposes the area of this 
township is named the Brad- 
ford Poor Law Union. 



APPENDIX 



325 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Braintree . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Witham. 


Bramley . 


mi. 


mi. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1862. In 1847 all 
the parishes were managed 
under 43 Eliz. 


Brampton . 


p. 


P.T. 


P,T. 




Brecknock 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Brentford . 


c. 


R. 


R. 




Bridge 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Bridgend and Cow- 


p. 


P. 


P.T. 




bridge, 










Bridgnorth 


p. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bridgwater 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bridlington 


C. 


P. 


P. 




Bridport . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Brighton . 


NU. (L.P.) 


mi.[-L.v.) 


mi. (L.P.) 




Brinton 


mi. (G.I.) 


... 


... 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Walsingham Union. 


Bristol 


mi. (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Formerly an incorporation, 
now a parish, and see Barton 
Regis. 


Brixworth . 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Bromley . 


p. 


P. 


P.T. 




Bromsgrove 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Bromyard . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Buckingham 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Bucklow . . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named "Altrincham Union" 
till 1895. 


Builth 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Buntingford 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Burnley 


mi. 


R. 


R. 




Burton-upon- Trent 


p. 


P. 


P.T. 




Bury 


mi. 


R. 


R. 




Bury St. Edmunds 


p. (L.L) 


P. (L.I.) 


?P. (S.P.) 


Incorporation till 1906. Now 
separate parish under Poor 
Law Amendment Act. 


Caistor . , 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Grimsby. 


Calne 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Camberwell 


iV^i^. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




Cambridge 


P. (U.) 


P.T. (U.) 


P.T. (S.P.) 


Parishes united to form one 
parish in 1900. 


Camelford . . 


c. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Cannock . 


p. 


P. 


P.T. 


Named " Penkridge Union " 
till 1877. 


Canterbury 


mi. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (S.P.) 


Incorporation till 1881. Then 
a union, now a parish. 


Cardiff . 


p. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


iSee Pontypridd. 


Cardigan , 


p. 


P, 


P. 




Carlisle 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Carlton . . 


mi. (G.I.) 






Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Holbeck, Hunslet, 
Leeds, Wetherby, and 
Wharfedale Unions. 


Carmarthen 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Carnarvon 


mi. 


P, 


P. 




Castle Ward 


p. 


P. 


P. 




Catherington 


P.T, 


P.T. 


P.T. 





326 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


1 

Notes. 


Caton 


Nil. (G.I.) 


... 


• •• 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Lancaster and 
Lunesdale Unions. 


Caxton and Arrington 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Cerne 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Chailey 


P. 


P. 


... 


Dissolved in 1898. Parishes 
added to Lewes Union. 


Chapel-en-le-Frith 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chard 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Cheadle 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Chelmsford 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Chelsea 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




Cheltenham 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chepstow , 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chertsey . 


T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chester 


Nil. (L.I.) 


P.T. (U.) 


P.T. (U.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 
union formed in 1869. In 
1871 many parishes added 
from Great Boughton 
(Tarvin) and Hawarden 
Unions. 


Chesterfield 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chester-le-Street 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Chesterton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chichester 


Nil. (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 
separate parish declared in 
1896. 


Chippenham 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chipping Norton 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Chipping Sodbury 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Barton Regis. 


Chorley 


NU. 


R. 


R. 




Chorlton . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See Barton-upon-Irwell. 


Christchurch 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Church Stretton . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Cirencester 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Cleobury Mortimer . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Clerkenwell. See St. 










James, Clerkenwell. 










Clifton. See Barton 










Regis. 










Clitheroe . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Clun. 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Clutton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Cockermouth 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Colchester . 


P. (U.) 


P.T. (U.) 


P.?T.(S.P.) 


Parishes in union united to 
form one parish in 1897 


Columb, St., Major . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Congleton . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Conway 


T. 


P. 


P. 




Cookham. ^ee Maiden- 










head. 










Corwen i 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Cosford 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Coventry . 


Nil. (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (U.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 
union formed in 1874. 


Cranbrook . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Crediton . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 





APPENDIX 



327 



Unions, etc End of 1847. 


End of 1871.' 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Crickhowell . . P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Cricklade and Wootton 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Bassett. 










Croydon . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Cuckfleld . 


' 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Darlington 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Dartford . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Daventry 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Depwade 






P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Guiltcross. 


Derby 






P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Devizes 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Devonport 






Nil. (L.P.) 


R. (L.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Named ' ' Stoke Damerel 










Parish " till 1898. Declared 










separate parish under board 










of guardians iu 1900. 


Dewsbury . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Docking 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dolgelly 






T. 


P. 


P. 




Doncaster 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dorchester 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dore . 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dorking 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dover 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Downham 






P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Drayton 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Driffield 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Droitwich 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Droxford 






P. 


P. 


P. 




Dudley 






P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Dvdverton 






T. 


P. 


P. 




Dunmow 






P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Durham 






P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Dursley 






P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Easington . , 




T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Easingwold 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Eastbourne 




P. 


P. 


P. 


See West Firle. 


East Grin stead 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Easthampstead 




P. 


P. 


P. 




East Preston 




C. (G.L) 


R. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 










union formed in 1869. The 










union included nearly all 










the parishes in the dissolved 










incorporation, and also in- 










cluded the dissolved Arundel 










Incorporation. See also 










Sutton. 


East Retford 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Eastry 


P. 


P. 


P. 




East Stonehouse 


P. (S.P.) 


P.T. (S.P.) 


P.T. (S.P.) 




East Ward 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ecclesall Bierlow 


c. 


R. 


R. 




Edmonton . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See Hampstead. 


Elham 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ellesmere . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Whitchurch (Salop). 


Ely ... . P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 





328 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Epping 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Epsom 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Erpingham 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Eton. 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Evesham . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Exeter 


Nil. (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Union formed in 1877. Now 
a parish. 


Faith, St. . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Falmouth . 


C. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Fareham . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Faringdon . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Farnborough . . 


0. (G.I.) 


• •• 


" • 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Hartley Wintney 
Union. 


Farnham . 


Nil. 


P. 


P. 


See Ash. 


Faversham 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Festiniog . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Flegg, East and West. 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 




Foleshill . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Bedworth. 


Forden 




P, 


P, 


Formed in 1870. In 1847 a 
fewr of the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. — 
the remainder formed the 
Montgomery and Pool In- 
corporation. 


Fordingbridge . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Forehoe . 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 




Freebridge Lynn 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Frome 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Fulham 


Nil. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Union dissolved in 1899 and 
the separate parishes of 
Fulham and Hammersmith 
declared. 


Fylde 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Gainsborough 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Garstang . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Gateshead . 


T. 


R. 


R. 




George, St., in the East 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




George, St., Hanover 


Nil. (L.P.) 


• •• 


• • • 


Included in St. George's 


Square. 








Union in 1870. 


George, St. (Union) . 




Nil. 


R. 


Formed in 1870 of parishes 
formerly under Local 
Acts (St. Margaret, West- 
minster, and St. George, 
Hanover Square). 


George, St., the Martyr 


Nil. (S.P.) 




"• 


Added to St. Saviour's Union 
(now called Southwark 
Union) in 1869. 


Germans, St. 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Giles, St., Camberwell. 










See Camberwell. 










Giles, St., in the Fields, 


Nil. (L.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Board of guardians declared 


and St. George, 








in 1868. 


Blooomsbury ( United 










Parishes) 











APPENDIX 



329 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Glanford Brigg . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Glendale . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Glossop 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Gloucester 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Godstone . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Goole 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Gower 


... 


P. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1857. Formerly 
part of Swansea Union. 


Grantham . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Belvoir and Grantham 
Out-relief Unions. 


Gravesend and Milton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Great Boughtou. See 










Tarvin. 










Great Preston. S66 










Preston, Great. 










Great Yarmouth. Set 










Yarmouth. 










Greenwich 


NU. 


R. 


R. 


See Woolwich. 


Grimsby . 


... 


... 


P.T. 


Formed in 1890. Formerly 
part of Caistor Union. 


Guildford . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Ash. 


Guiltcross . . . 


P. 


P.T. 


••■ 


Dissolved in 1902. Parishes 
added to Depwade, Thet- 
ford, and Wayland Unions. 


Guisborough 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 


See Middlesbrough. 


Hackney , 


NU. 


R. 


R. 




Hailsham . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See West Firle. 


Halifax 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Halstead . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Haltwhistle 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hambledon 


P.T 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hammersmith . 


• •• 


*.« 


R. (S.P.) 


Declared a separate parish in 
1899. Formerly part of 
Fulham Union. 


Hampstead 


• •• 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Declared a separate parish in 
1848. Formerly part of 
Edmonton Union. 


Hardingstone . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hartismere 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hartlepool 


... 


P. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1859. Formerly 
part of Stockton Union. 


Hartley Wintney 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Ash and Famborough. 


Haslingden 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Hastings . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hatfield . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Havant 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Haverfordwest . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ha warden . 


• •• 


P. 


P. 


Formed in 1853 of parishes, 
formerly part of Great 
Boughton (now called 
Tarvin) Union, In 1871 
largely reconstructed, many 
parishes being added to 
Chester Union, and others 
added from Wrexham Union. 


Hay .... 


P. 


P. 


P. 





330 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, 


etc. 


End of 1S47. 


End of 1S71. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Hayfield . 


ft f 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Headington 


^ J 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Headley . 


« 


C. (G.I.) 


*■• 


... 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishes 
added to Alton and Peters - 
field Unions. 


Helmsley . 


• • 


Nil. 


P. 


P. 


Named " Helmsley Blackmoor 
Union" till 1887. See 
Kirkby Moorside. 


Helston . 


• • 


T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hemel Hempstead 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Hemsworth 


• • 


*•• 


R. 


R. 


Formed in 1850. In 1847 
nearly all the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. 


Hendon , 


, 


C. 


R. 


R. 


(See Willesden. 


Henley 


» • 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Henslead . 


« » 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hereford . 


^ 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hertford . 


• • 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hexham , 




P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Highworth and Swin- 










don, /See 


Swindon 










and Highworth. 










Hinckley . 


, , 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See. Bedworth. 


Hitchin 


, , 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Holbeach , 


* • 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Holbeck . 


• 


(Township 

under 43 

Eliz. c, 2.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


Union formed in 1869. In 
1847 the Township of Hol- 
beck was managed under 
43 Eliz., the other Town- 
ships being included in the 
Carlton Incorporation. 


Holborn . 


• • 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See James, St., Clerkenwell, 
and Luke, St., Middlesex. 


HoUingbourne . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Holswortliy 


• « 


C. 


P.T. 


P. 




Holyhead . 


• • 


... 


R. 


P. 


Formed in 1852. Formerly 
part of Anglesey Union. 


Holywell . 


• » 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Honiton . 


• • 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hoo . 


• 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Horncastle 


* 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Horsliam . 


, 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Houghton-le- 


Spring . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Howden . 


, , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Hoxne 


, 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Huddersfield 


. 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Hungerford and Rams- 


P. 


P. 


P. 


Named "Hungerford Union" 


bury 










till 1896. 


Hunslet . 


• 


(Township 
under 43 
Eliz. c. 2.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


In 1847 the Township of Huns- 
let was managed under 43 
Eliz. Some other parishes in 
the union, which was formed 
in 1869, were formerly in 
Carlton and Great Preston 
Incorporations. 


Huntingdon 


• a 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Hursley 


• • 


P. 


P. 


P. 





APPENDIX 



331 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Ipswich 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Islington . 


Nil. (L.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Board of guardians declared 
in 1867. 


Ives, St. . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




James, St., Clerkenwell 


Nil. (L.P.) 


... 




Added to Holbom Union in 
1869. 


James, St., Westminster 


NU. (L.P.) 


... 


... 


Included in Westminster 
Union in 1868. 


John, St., Hampstead. 










See. Hampstead. 










Keighley . 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Kendal 


C. 


R. 


R. 




Kensington 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




Kettering . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Keynsham 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Keynsham and Warmley 
Out-Relief Unions. 


Kidderminster . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Kingsbridge 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Kingsclere . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Kings Lynn 


C. 


R. 


P. 




Kings Norton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Kingston-upon-HuU . 


Nil. (L.L) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (L.P.) 


Incorporation consisted in 1 847 
and 1871 of two united 
parishes. In 1906 there 
was only one parish, but it 
was styled an incorporation. 


Kingston-on-Thames . 


C. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Kington . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Presteigne. 


Kirkby Moorside 


• t • 


P. 


P. 


Formed in 1848. Formerly 
part of Helmsley Blackmoor 
(Helmsley) Union. 


Knaresborough . 


• •• 


P. 


P. 


Formed in 1854. In 1847 
nearly all the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. 


Knighton . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Presteigne. 


Lambeth . 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P). 


R. (S.P.) 


Named "St. Mary, Lambeth" 
till 1901. 


Lampeter . 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Lancaster . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See Caton, 


Lanchester 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Langport . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Launceston 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ledbury . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Leeds 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


The Leeds Union was formed 
in 1869 and included the 
Township of Leeds, and also 
parishes from Barwick in 
Elmet, Carlton, and Great 
Preston Incorporations. 


Leek 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Alstonfield. 


Leicester . 


T. (U.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Parishes in union united to 
form one parish in 1896. 


Leigh 


NU. 


R. 


R. 





I 



332 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Leighton Buzzard 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Wobum. 


Leominster 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Leonard, St,, Shoreditch 


Nil. (L.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Board of guardians constituted 
in [1858 and] 1868. 


Lewes 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Chailey and West Firle. 


Lewisham . 


C. 


R. 


R. 


See Woolwich. 


Lexden and Winstree . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Witham. 


Leybnrn . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Lichfield . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Lincoln 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Linton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Liskeard . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Liverpool , 


Nil. (L.P.) 


E. (L.P.) 


R. (L.P.) 




Llandilo Favvr . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Llandovery 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Llanelly . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Llanfyllin , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Llanrwst . 


T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Loddon and Clavering 


P. 


P. 


P. 




London, City of. 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See London, East, and London, 
West. 


London, East 


Nil. 


... 


... 


Dissolved in 1869— parishes 
added to City of London 


• 








Union. 


London, West . , 


Nil. 


••' 


... 


Dissolved in 1869 — parishes 
added to City of London 
Union. 


Long Ashton 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named " Bedminster Union" 
till 1899. 


Longtown . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Loughborough , 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Louth 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ludlow 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Luke, St., Chelsea. See, 










Chelsea, 










Luke, St., Middlesex . 


Nil. (L.P.) 


... 


... 


Added to Holbom Union in 
1869. 


Lunesdale . . . 




R. 


R. 


Formed in 1869. In 1847 
about half of the parishes 
were managed under 43 
Eliz. ; most of the remainder 
were in Caton Incorporation. 


Luton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Lutterworth 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Bedworth, 


Lymington 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Macclesfield 


C. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Machynlleth 


T. 


P. 


P. 




Madeley . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Maidenhead 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 


Named " Cookham Union " 
tm 1896. 


Maidstone . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Maldon . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Witham. 


Mailing 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Malmesbury 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Malton . . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Malton and Norton Out- 
Relief Unions. 



\ 



APPENDIX 



333 



Unions, etc. 



Manchester 



Mausfield . 
Margaret, St., and St, 

John, Westminster. 
Market Bosworth 
Market Drayton. See 

Drayton. 
Market Harborough . 
Marlborough 
Martin, St., in the 

Fields. 
Martley 
Mary, St., and St. 

Andrew, Whittlesey. 

See Whittlesey. 
Mary, St. , Islington. 

See Islington. 
Mary, St., Lambeth. 

See Lambeth. 
Mary, St., Newington 



Mary, St., Eotherhithe 



Marjdeboue, St. 

Mary Magdalen, St., 
Bermondsey. See 
Bermondsey, St. Mary 
Magdalen. 

Medway . 

Melksham. See Trow- 
bridge and Melksham. 

Melton Mowbray 

Mere 

Meriden 

Merthyr Tydfil . 

Middlesbrough . 



Midhurst . 

Mildenhall 

Mile End Old Town 



Milton 

Mitford and Launditch 

Monmouth 

Montgomery and Pool 



End of 1847. 



Nil. (U.) 



P.T. 

iW7. (L.P.) 



P. 
P. 

Nil. (S.P.) 



Nil. (L.P.) 



iV^iZ. (S.P.) 



ira. (L.P.) 



p. 

P.T. 
P. 
T. 



P. 

P. 



End of 1871. 



R. (S.P.) 



P.T. 



P. 



P. 
P. 



R. (S.P.) 



P. 

P. 

P. 

Nil. (L.I.) 



P. 

P.T. 

P. 

P.T. 



P. 

P.T. 
R. (S.P.) 



End of 1906. 



P.T. 
P. 
P. 



R. (S.P.) 



P.T. 
P. 



P. 
P. 



R. (S.P.) 



P. 

P.T. 

P. 
P.T. 

R. 



P. 

P.T. 
R. (S. 



P) 



P.T. 

P. 

P.T, 



Notes. 



The Manchester Union was 
dissolved in 1850 ; the 
Township of Manchester was 
declared a separate to-^vn- 
ship ; the other parishes in 
the union were included in 
the Prestwich Union. 

Included in St, George's Union 

in 1870, 
See Bedworth, 



Added to Strand Union ii> 
1868. 



Added to St, Saviour's Union 

(now Southwark Union) in 

1869. 
Added to St. Olave's Union 

(now Bermondsey Parish) 

in 1869. 
Board of guardians declared in 

1867. 



See Pontypridd. 

Formed in 1875. Formerly 
parts of Guisborough, 
Stockton, and Stokesley 
Unions. 

See Sutton. 

Declared separate in 1857. 
Formerly part of Stepney 
Union. 



Dissolved in 1870. Parishes 
included in Forden Union. 



334 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Morpeth . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Mutl'ord and Lothing- 


mi.{\..i.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (U.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 


laud 








union formed in 1893. Se/i 
Yarmouth, Great. 


Nantwicb . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See also Whitchurch (Salop). 


Narberth , 


P. 


P, 


P. 




Neath 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 


See Pontardawe. 


Neot's, St. 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Newark 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Newbury , 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Newcastle-in-Einlyn . 


P, 


P. 


P. 




Newcastle-under-Lyme 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Newcastle-upon-Tyne , 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Newent 


P. 


P. 


P. 




New Forest 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




NewingtoD, St. Mary, 










See, St. Mary, New- 










ington. 










New Winchester. See, 










Winchester, 










Newhaven . 


P. 


P, 


P. 




Newmarket 


P.T, 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Newport (Monmouth). 


P. 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Newport (Salop) 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Newport Pagnell 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Newton Abbot . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Newtown and Llanidloes 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Northallerton . 


T. 


P. 


P. 




Northampton 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




North Aylesford, (See 










Strood. 










North Bierley . 




R. 


R. 


Formed in 1848. In 1847 
formed part of Bradford 
(Yorks) Union. See Brad- 
ford for changes in 1897. 


Northleach , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Northwich 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




North Witchford 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Norwich . 


Nil. (L.I,) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (L.P.) 


In 1890 the parishes in the 
incorporation were united 
to form one parish. 


Nottingham 


Special (U.) 


R. (U.) 


R. (S.P.) 


The parishes in the union were 
united to form one parish 
in 1899, See also Radford. 


Nuneaton , 


P,T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Oakham . 


P, 


P. 


P. 




Okehampton 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Olave, St. iSee Ber- 










mondsey. 










Oldham 


Ml. 


R. 


R. 




Ongar 


P.T, 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Ormskirk . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Orsett 


P. 


P. 


P T 




Oswestry . 


NU. (L.I.) 


P. (L.I.) 


P.T.'(L.I.) 




Oundle 


P. 


P. 


P. 





APPENDIX 



335 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Ouseburn, Great 


Nil. (G.I.) 


P. (U.) 


P. (U.) 


Union formed in 1854. Some 
of the parishes included in 
the union were in 1847 
managed under 43 Eliz. ; and 
see Barwick in Elmet. 


Oxford . « 


Nil. (L.I.) 


P.T. (L.I.) 


P.T. (L.I.) 


» 


Paddington 


Nil. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 




Pancras, St. 


Special 
(L.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


R. (S.P.) 


Board of guardians declared in 
1867. 


Pateley Bridge . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Patrington 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Pembroke . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Penistone . 




R. 


R. 


Formed in 1849. In 1847 
certain of the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz., 
other parishes formed part 
of Wortley Union. 


Penkridge. 5ee Cannock. 










Penrith 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Penzance . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Pershore , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Peterborough 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Petersiield 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Headley. 


Petworth . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Sutton. 


Pewsey 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Pickering . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Plomesgate 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Plymouth . 


Nil. (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (L.P.) 


The parishes in the incor- 
poration were united in 1898 
to form one parish. 


Plympton, St. Mary . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Pockliugton 


T. 


P. 


P. 




Pontardawe , 


... 


... 


R. 


Formed in 1875, Formerly 
part of Neath and Swansea 
Unions. 


Pontefract . . 




Nil. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1862. In 1847 
about four-fifths of the 
parishes were managed 
under 43 Eliz., others 
formed part of Barwick in 
Elmet and Great Preston 
Incorporations. 


Pontypool . , 


P. 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Pontypridd , 


••• 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Formed in 1862. Formerly 
part of Cardiff and Merthyr 
Tydfil Unions. 


Poole , , 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Poplar 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


[The name of this Poor Law 
Union is now (1907) "Parish 
of Poplar Borough."] 


Portsea Island. See 










Portsmouth. 










Portsmouth 


P. (U.) 


P.T. (U.) 


?P. 1T.(S.P.) 


Named "Portsea Island 
Union" tiU 1900, when the 
parishes in the union were 
united to form one parish. 



336 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 



Potterspury 
Prescot 
Presteigne . 



Preston 

Preston, East. 
East Preston. 
Preston, Great 



Sue 



Prestwich 



Pwllheli 



Radford 



Reading 

Redruth . . 
Reeth . . 
Reigate 
Rhayader . 
Richmond (Surrey) 
Richmond (Yorks) 
Ringwood . 
Ripon . . 



Risbridge . 
Rochdale . 
Rochford . 
Romford . 
Romney Marsh 
Romsey 
Ross . 

Rothbury . 
Rotherham 
Rotherhilhe. .See Mary, 

St., Rotherhithe. 
Royston 
Rugby 
Runcorn 
Ruthin 
Rye . 

Saddleworth 



End of 1847. 



P. 

Nil. 
T. 



mi. 



Nil. (G.I.) 



NU. 



P. (U.) 

P. 
P. 
P. 
T. 
C. 

P.T. 
P. 



P. 
Nil. 
P. 
P. 
P. 
P. 
P. 
P. 
C. 



P. 
P. 
T. 
P. 
P.T, 

Nil. (G.I.) 



End of 1871. 



P. 
R. 
R. 



R. 



R. 

P. 
R. 



P. (U.) 

P. 
P. 
P. 
R. 
R. 

P.T, 
P. 
P. 



P.T. 

R. 

P. 
P.T. 

P. 
P.T. 

P, 

P. 

R. 



P.T. 

P. 

P. 

P. 
P.T. 

R. (S.P.) 



End of 1906. 



Notes. 



P. 
R. 



R. 



R. 
P. 

?P, ?T.(S.P.) 

P.T. 

P. 

P. 

P, 

R. 
P.T. 

P. 

P. 



P.T. 

R. 

P. 
P.T, 

P. 
P.T. 

P, 

P. 

R. 



P.T. 
P.T. 

P. 

P. 
P.T. 

R. (U.) 



Dissolved in 1877. Parishes 
added to Kington and 
Knighton Unions. 



Dissolved in 1869. All but 
four of the parishes were 
added to Pontefract and 
Tadcaster Unions, one each 
of the remainder were added 
to Hunslet, Leeds, Selby, 
and Wakefield Unions. 

Formed in 1850. Nearly all 
the parishes were formerly 
part of Manchester Union. 



Dissolved in 1880. Parishes 
added to Nottingham Union 
(now Parish). 

Parishes united to form one 
parish in 1905. 



Formed in 1852. In 1847 
nearly all the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. 



See Bedworth, 



Named "Saddleworth ^vith 
Quick Incorporation " till 
1853. In 1853 board of 
guardians declared. In 
1894 a union was formed. 



APPENDIX 



"2 ^'^ 
JO/ 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Saddleworth -witli Quick. 










See Saddleworth. 










Saffron Walden . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Salford . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Salisbury (Incorpora- 


Ml. (L.I.) 


... 


... 


The incorporation was in 1869 


tion). 








added to Alderbury (now 
named Salisbury) Union. 


Salisbury (Union) 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named "Alderbury Union" 
tm 1895. See Salisbury 
Incorporation. 


Samford . 


P. (L.I.) 


P. (U.) 


P. (U.) 


Incorporation dissolved and 
union formed in 1849. 


Saviour's, . St. See 










Southwarlv. 










Scarboroiigh 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Sculcoates . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Sedbergh . 


Nil. 


P. 


P. 




Sedgefield . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Seisdon 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Selby 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Preston, Great. 


Settle 


T. 


E. 


R. 




Sevenoaks . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Shaftesbury 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Shardlow , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Sheffield . 


C. 


R. 


R. 




Slieppey . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Sliepton Mallet . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


* 


Sherborne . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Shiffnal . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Shipston-on-Stour 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Shoreditch, See Leon- 










ard, St., Shoreditch. 










Shrewsbury 


Nil. (L.I.) 


... 


... 


Dissolved in 1871. Parishes 
added to Atcham Union. 


Skipton 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Skirlaugh . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Sleaford . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Smallburgh 




P. 


P. 


Formed in 1869. One parish 
was formerly in Erpingham 
Union, the other parishes 
formed the Tunstead and 
Happing Incorporation. 


Solihull . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Southam , 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Southampton 


Nil (L.I.) 


R. (L.I.) 


R. (L.L) 




South Molton . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




South Shields . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




South Stoneham 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Southwai-k 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


Named St. Saviour's Union 
till 1901. See St. Mary, 
Newington. 


Southwell . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Spalding . 


P. 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Spilsby 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stafford . 


P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Staines 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Stamford . 


P. 


P. 


P. 





338 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Stepney . 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


.See Mile End Old Town. 


Steyning . 


• 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stoekbridge 


• 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stockport . 


• 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 




Stockton . 


• 


T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


»See Hartlepool and Middles- 










brough. 


Stoke Damerel. (See 










Devonport. 










Stokesley , 


C. 


P. 


P. 


See Middlesbrough, 


Stoke-upon-Trent 


P.T. (S.P.) 


P.T. (S.P.) 


P. ? T. (U.) 


Union formed in 1894. 


Stone 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stourbridge 


P.T. 


P.T, 


P.T, 




Stow 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stow-on-the-Wold 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Strand 


Nil. 


R. 


R. 


See Martin, St., in the Fields 
and Westminster. 


Stratford-on-Avon 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Stratton . 


C. 


P.T. 


P. 




Strood 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named ' ' North Aylesford 
Union " till 1884. 


Stroud 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Sturminster 


P 


P. 


P, 




Sudbury . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Sunderland 


T. 


R. 


R. 




Sutton 


C. (G.I.) 


... 


... 


Dissolved in 1869. Most of 
the parishes were added to 


* 








Petworth Union, the re- 
mainder were added to Bast 
Preston, Midhurst, Thake- 
ham and Westhampnett 
Unions. 


SwaflFham . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Swansea . 


P. 


P, 


P.T. 


See Gower and Pontardawe. 


Swindon and High worth 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named ' ' Highworth and 
Swindon " till 1899. 


Tadcaster . 




Nil. 


P. 


Formed in 1862. In 1847 
several of the parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. 
Others were in Barwick-in- 
Elmet and Great Preston 
Incorporations. 


Tarn worth . . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Tarvin 


T. 


P. 


P. 


Named " Great Boughton 
Union" till 1871. See also 
Chester, Hawarden, and 
Whitchurch (Salop). 


Taunton . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Tavistock . 




P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Teesdale . 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Tenbury . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Tendring . 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Tenterden . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Tetbury . 




P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Tewkesbury 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Thakeham 




P. 


P. 


P. 


See Sutton. 


Thame 




P.T, 


P.T. 


P.T. 





APPENDIX 



339 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Thanet, Isle of . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Thetford . 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


(See Guiltcross. 


Thingoe . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Thirsk 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Thomas, St. 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Thornbury 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See, Barton Eegis. 


Thome 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Thrapston . 




P. 


P. 


P.T. 




Ticehurst . 




P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Tisbury 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Tiverton . 




P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Todmorden 




Nil. 


E. 


E. 




Tonbridge . , 




P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Torrington 




P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Totnes 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Towcester . . 




P. 


P. 


P. 




Toxteth Park , 




• •■ 


E. 


E. 


Declared a separate Township 










in 1857. Formerly part of 










West Derby Union. 


Tregaron . 


T. 


E. 


E. 




Trowbridge and Melk- 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


Named Melksham Union till 


sham. 








1898. 


Truro 


C. 


P. 


P. 




Tunstead and Happing 


P. (L.I.) 


• •• 


• • • 


Dissolved in 1869. Parishea 
included in Smallburgh 
Union. 


Tynemouth 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Uckfield . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ulverston . 


C. 


E. 


E. 


See BaiTow-in-Furness. 


Uppingham 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Upton-on-Severn 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Uttoxeter . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Uxbridge . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wakefield . 


Nil. 


E. 


E. 


;See Preston, Great. 


Wallingford 


P. 


P. 


P. 




"Walsall . 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Walsingham 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


(S'ee Brintou. 


Wandsworth 


Nil. 


E. 


E. 


Named "Wandsworth and 
Clapham Union" till 1904. 


Wangford . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wantage . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Ware 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wareham and Purbeck 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Warminster - 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Warrington 


T. 


E. 


E. 




Warwick . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Watford . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wayland , 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See, Guiltcross. 


Weardale . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Wellingborough . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Wellington (Salop) 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wellington (Som.) 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wells 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Welwyu . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Wem 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See also Whitchurch (Salop). 



340 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 



Weobley , 
Westbourne 
West Bromwich . 
Westbury-ou-Sevem . 
Westbury and Wbor- 

wellsdowu. 
West Derby 
West Firle 



West Ham 

WestliamiJnett 

Westminster 



End of 1847. 



P. 

P. 
P.T. 

P, 
P.T, 

Nil. 
P. 



P. 
P. 



End of 1871. 



West Ward 
Wetherby . 



Weymouth 
Wharfedale 



Wlieatenhurst . 
Whitby . 
Whitchurch (Hants) 
Whitchurch (Salop) 



P. 



Whitechapel 
Whitehaven^ 
Whittlesey 



Wigan 

Wight, Isle of , 

Wigton 
Willesden . 



Williton . 

WDton 

Wimborne and Cran- 

borne. 
Wiucanton , 



P. 
P. 
P. 

Nil. (L.P.) 



P. 

P. 
P.T. 

P. 
P.T. 

R. 
P. 



P.T. 
P. 
R. 



Nil. 

P.T. 

P. (S.P.) 



Nil. 
Nil. (L.I.) 

P.T. 



P. 
P. 
P. 

P.T. 



P. 
R. 



P.T. 
R. 



P. 

P.T. 
P. 

Nil. (U.) 



R. 

P.T. 

P. (S.P.) 



R. 

?R. (U.) 

P.T. 



P. 

P.T. 
P. 

P.T. 



End of 1906. 



P. 

P. 
P.T. 

P. 
P.T. 

R. 



P.T. 
P. 
R. 



P. 

R. 



P.T. 
R. 



P. 

P.T. 

P. 

P- (U.) 



R. 

P.T. 

P. (U.) 



R. 
P. (U.) 

P.T. 
R. (S.P.) 



P. 

P.T. 

P. 

P.T. 



Notes. 



See Toxteth Park. 

Dissolved in 1898. Parishes 
added to Eastbourne, Hail- 
sham, and Lewes Union. 

See Sutton. 

Union formed in 1868. Part 
was formerly under Local 
Act (James, St., West- 
minster), remainder was 
formerly in Strand Union. 

Formed m 1861. In 1847 
about half the Parishes were 
managed under 4-3 Eliz. — 
Se& also Barwick-in-Elmet 
and Carlton. 

Formed in 1861, In 1847 
about half the Parishes were 
managed under 43 Eliz. — 
See also Carlton. 



Union formed in 1853 — Com- 
prising the Whitchurch In- 
corporation and Parishes 
formerly in Ellesmere, Great 
Boughtou (Tarvin), Nant- 
wich, Wem and Wrexham 
Unions, 



Named "Whittlesey Parish" 
or " United Parishes of St. 
Mary and St. Andrew, 
Whittlesey," till 1894. 
Union formed in 1894, 

Incorporation dissolved and 
Union formed in 1865, 

Separate Parish declared in 
1896. Formerly part of 
Hendon Union. 



APPENDIX 



341 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


Winchcomb 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Winchester 


P. 


P. 


P. 


Named New Winchester Union 
till 1901. 


Windsor . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Winslow . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Wirrall 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 


See Birkenhead, 


Wisbeach . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




With am . . 


P. 


P- 




Dissolved in 1880. Parishes 
added by Braintree, Lexden 
and Winstree and Maiden 
Unions. 


Witney 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wobum . , 


P. 


P.T. 




Dissolved in 1899. Parishes 
added to Ampthill and 
Leighton Buzzard Unions. 


Wokingham 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Wolstanton and Bur- 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




slem 










Wolverhampton . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Woodbridge 


P.T. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Woodstock 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Woolwich . 


■ • ■ 


R. 


E. 


Formed in 1868. Formerly 
part of Greenwich and 
Lewisham Unions. 


Worcester . 


P. 


P.T, 


P.T. 




Worksop . . 


P. 


P. 


P. 




Wortley . 


C, 


R. 


R. 


See, Peuistone. 


Wrexham . . 


P. 


P. 


P. 


See Hawarden and Whitchurch 
(Salop). 


Wycombe . 


P. 


P.T. 


P.T. 




Yarmouth, Great 


P.T. (S.P.) 


P.T. (S.P.) 


P. ?T, (U.) 


"Parish" till 1891. Union 
formed in 1891, of the parish 
and of a parish which was 
formerly part of the Mutford 
and Lothingland Incorpora- 
tion. 


Yeovil . , 


P. 


P. 


P. 




York 


C. 


P. 


P. 


See, Bishopthorpe, Escrick, 
Flaxton and York Out-Relief 
Unions. 


OuT-EELiEP Unions 










Belvoir . . . 


• • • 


• •• 


P. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of 
Grantham Union]. 


Blshopthorpe 


• •• 


• ■ • 


P.T. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of York 

Union]. 
Formed in 1894 [Part of York 


Escrick 


• •• 




P.T. 










Union]. 


Flaxton . 


... 


... 


P.T. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of York 
Union]. 


Grantham . , 


... 


... 


P. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of 
Grantham Union]. 


Keynsham 


• • ■ 


* *" 


P. 


Formed in 1895 [Part of 
Keynsham Union]. 



342 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Unions, etc. 


End of 1847. 


End of 1871. 


End of 1906. 


Notes. 


OuT-RBLiEF Unions — 










CoTidd, 










Mai ton 


... 


... 


P. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of 
Malton Union]. 


Norton 


• •■ 


... 


P. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of 
Malton Union]. 


Warmley . . . 


... 


... 


P. 


Formed in 1895 [Part of 
Keynsham Union]. 


York 


• f < 


• • • 


P.T. 


Formed in 1894 [Part of York 
Union], 



In the Unions and Incorporations marked " C " in the table, a 
regulation to the following effect was in force at the end of 1847 : — 

" If any able-bodied male pauper shall apply to be set to work by 
the parish, one-half at least of the relief which may be afforded 
to him or to his family shall be in kind." 



The following special regulations were in force at the end of 1847: — 
Nottingham. — The Out-relief Rules contained in the early Regulations 
Order were in special terms. A subsequent Order suspended 
certain of those rules, and permitted outdoor relief to able- 
bodied paupers, to " be given, as far as possible, in return for 
piecework," 

St. Pancras. — The rules directed that " in the case of any able-bodied 
persons the guardians may, until accommodation can be obtained 
for the reception of such persons in the workhouse, give outdoor 
relief, one-half of which, at least, shall be in kind ; but such 
relief shall only be given in return for labour at task work." 



APPENDIX B^ 

EXTRACT FROM THE MINORITY REPORT FOR SCOTLAND, GIVING 
THE REASONS IN FAVOUR OF THE COMPLETE SUPER- 
SESSION OF THE POOR LAW 

We realise that the foregoing recommendations amount to the complete 
supersession of the Poor Law, and, indeed, to its abolition. In its stead, 
we propose merely an adequate enlargement of the work already under- 
taken by the various existing public authorities for the prevention of 
destitution — for the prevention of the destitution due to neglected child- 
hood by the Local Education Authority ; for the prevention of the 
destitution due to preventable sickness, neglected infancy, or uncared-for 
infirmity by the Local Health Authority ; for the prevention of the 
destitution due to mental defectiveness by the Local Lunacy Authority ; 
for the prevention of the destitution of Old Age by the Local Pension 
Authority ; and for the prevention of the destitution due to unemploy- 
ment by the new National Authority of which the beginning is seen in 
the Labour Exchanges Act of 1909. We recommend, in fact, that the 
community should cease to maintain a special organ for the mere relief of 
destitution, however caused ; and should make such relief as must be 
given merely incidental to the deliberate prevention of destitution, to 
which it has, by the creation of public authorities dealing with the 
several causes of destitution, already set its hand. We now proceed to 
summarise the main reasons for so radical a change of attitude towards 
the problem of poverty, and incidentally to answer the more important 
objections that have been made to it. 

The Present Overlap and Duplication of Services in Respect of all Sections 

of the Destitute 

The first reason for dispensing with any special Authority for the 
relief of destitution as such is a practical one. The work of the Poor 
Law Authority has to-day been largely superseded, in every branch of 
its duties, by the activities of the newer forms of Local Government. We 

^ The Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, etc., relating to 
Scotland is issiied as Cd. 4922, price 2/8. Tlie Minority Report for Scotland is 
published separately by the Scottish National Committee to Promote the Break-up 
of the Poor Law (180 Hope Street, Glasgow), price 6d. net. 

343 



344 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

have already described, in our proposal for the institution of a Common 
Eegister of Public Assistance, and the appointment of a Registrar, the 
beginnings in Scotland of the same costly overlap of services and 
duplication of work which have, in England, already reached extravagant 
proportions. Thus, whereas in 1845, and for some years afterwards, all 
the public assistance aflforded to the sick poor was included in the Poor 
Law administration, there has gradually been built up, out of the rates, 
a second medical service, the Public Health department of the County or 
Burgh.. This Public Health Department — in the Highlands, in the 
Hebrides, and in some of the rural districts still only rudimentary — has, 
in the large towns, already its own series of hospitals in which the sick 
poor are maintained as well as treated, entirely free of charge, yet 
without being paupers. To the long list of diseases already treated in 
these municipal hospitals, there has now been added phthisis, an illness 
which accounts for a large proportion of the sick at present dealt with by 
the Poor Law Authorities. With regard to the children, we see, more or 
-less competing with the Poor Law for their care, on the one hand the 
Industrial Schools so largely maintained out of the rates and taxes, and 
on the other the School Boards with the new powers conferred on them 
by the Education (Scotland) Act of 1908 in connection with the provision 
of meals and medical inspection. With regard to the aged, we have 
since 1908 in every County and Burgh a Local Pension Committee 
awarding domiciliary pensions to no fewer than 70,000 persons over 70, 
or more than treble the number of aged persons maintained by the Parish 
Councils as Poor Law Authorities, many, indeed, having been saved from 
the pauper rolL The removal of the pauper disqualification for a national 
pension, which has been definitely announced as a subject for legislation 
in 1910, will make the overlap still more remarkable. With regard to 
all the persons certifiable as of unsound mind we have the District Boards 
of Lunacy providing asylums for some, whilst the Parish Councils still 
deal with others in the Poorhouses, as they do with the uncertified 
imbeciles, epileptics, and feeble-minded. Finally, with regard to the 
able-bodied men in distress, for whom the Scottish Poor Law professes 
not to provide (but nevertheless, as we see, in practice does so as much 
as the English Poor Law), we find growing up in a score of towns, 
comprising half the population of Scotland, an organised system of 
public assistance of one kind or another, under the Distress Committees 
established by the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905. We see, in 
town after town, the vagrants, for whom the Parish Council does not 
provide, relieved in one way or another by the Police. Thus, there is 
not one section of the host of persons in Scotland who are without 
the necessaries of life, of whom the Parish Council, as the Poor Law 
Authority, is to-day left in undisturbed possession. For the care of the 
children, the sick, the mentally defective, the aged, and the able-bodied 
unemployed. Parliament has set up, in Scotland as in England, specialised 
public authorities which deal with the poor, not on account of their 
destitution, but in respect of the cause or character of their need. 

Fortunately, the overlap and confusion caused by these rival services 
and competing Local Authorities have in Scotland not yet gone far. It 
is still possible to prevent a v/aste of expenditure and a confusion of 



APPENDIX 345 

functions that will certainly increase if the growing overlap is not stopped. 
To us there seems to be but two lines of reform. We may, on the one 
hand, ask Parliament to arrest the ever-increasing activities of the Local 
Health Authorities, stop the provision of more isolation hospitals, check 
the Health Visitors and the crusade against infantile mortality, rescind 
the recent order of the Local Government Board annexing to their sphere 
the whole range of tuberculosis, and remit all the sick poor once more to 
the Parish Council and its Poorhouse. We may propose to repeal the 
Unemployed Workmen Act and the Old Age Pensions Act, and thrust 
back the unemployed workmen and the aged into the Poor Law. We 
may recommend the withdrawal of the new powers given to the School 
Boards in connection with medical inspection and school meals for 
hungry children. We may, in fact, propose to revert to the position in 
1845, when there was everywhere one Local Authority, and one Local 
Authority only, to give public assistance to the necessitous poor. We do 
not think such a course either desirable or politically practicable. We 
do not believe that any Minister of the Crown will have the hardihood 
to propose it ; we do not believe that Scottish public opinion will 
tolerate it ; we do not believe that any House of Commons will agree 
to it. 

The other alternative seems to us to be, not to reverse but to con- 
tinue the evolution that has been going on in Local Government, in 
Scotland as in England. Instead of seeking to curtail the work with 
regard to children, the sick, the mentally defective, the aged and the 
able-bodied unemployed, which is now being undertaken by the Local 
Education Authorities, the Local Health Authorities, the Local Lunacy 
Authorities, the Local Pension Authorities, and the Local Unemployment 
Authorities, what we recommend is that the remainder of each of these 
sections of the poor who are still being looked after by the Poor Law 
Authorities should be transferred to the newer specialised Authorities 
that have been created. 

Just as it is proposed, by the Royal Commission on the Care and 
Control of the Feeble-minded, with the concurrence of practically all 
acquainted with the problem, to take the persons of unsound mind, 
including the epileptic and the feeble-minded, quite "out of the Poor 
Lav.'," and place them entirely in the hands of the Local Lunacy 
Authority, so it is suggested that all public care of the children of school 
age should be " taken out of the Poor Law " and transferred to the Local 
Education Authority ; that all public care of the sick and infirm 
(including the maternity cases, the infants under school age, and the aged 
requiring institutional care) should be " taken out of the Poor Law," and 
transferred to the Local Health Authority ; and that all the aged who 
can and will live decently on their pensions should be " taken out of the 
Poor Law," and dealt with by the Pension Committee — the whole under 
the control and direction of the Parish School Board or the District 
Committee, or the County or Town Council as the case may be. There 
would then remain, out of all the pauper host, only the vagrants and 
the odds and ends of genuinely able-bodied men who find their way 
to the Poorhouse. For these who need help to find a situation if they 
are merely stranded by temporary unemployment, detention colonies if 



346 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

they are idle or vicious, and physical and industrial training if they have 
to be maintained whilst waiting for a place, we recommend that there 
should be a new authority of national scope — the government department 
which is already being set up under the Labour Exchanges Act of 1909, 
and which should also take over the work of the Distress Committees 
under the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905. We recommend, there- 
fore, as the only practicable means of preventing a wasteful and demoralising 
duplication of services, the complete abolition, not only of the Poorhouse, 
but also of the Poor Law itself. 

The Expediency of Preventing the Occurrence of Destitution, rather than 
merely Relieving it after it has Occurred. 

What we propose is no mere change of names or of oflScial machinery. 
We think the time has come when the nation should definitely adopt the 
principle of using all its powers to prevent the occurrence of destitution, 
instead of the principle of merely relieving it after it has occurred. 
Destitution, as we know, is a social disease, as destructive to the health 
of the community as phthisis is ; quite as dangerous to the individual 
attacked, once it has gained a firm hold, but fortunately as gradual as 
phthisis in its attack. The Poor Law Authorities of Scotland have failed 
to prevent the occurrence of destitution, or even to prevent pauperism, 
and have been unable to provide what is required for the several sections 
of persons under their charge, not because the Parish Councillors are 
incompetent or dishonest, careless or corrupt, but because they have been 
set, not to this task at all, but merely to that of "relieving destitution." 
They do relieve destitution much more efficiently on the whole than ever 
before ; but we are not satisfied, nor do we think that public opinion is 
now satisfied, with the spending in Scotland, year after year, more than 
a million sterling in the relief of a destitution which never gets either 
prevented or cured. TVhat the nation now asks is that men, women, and 
children should, hy appropriate measures, he prevented from sinldng to a con- 
dition of destitution; and that such as unavoidably fall into that state should 
be taken in hand with a view, not merely to their relief, but to their effectual 
cure. This is work which a Poor Law authority, by the very nature of 
its being, can never perform effectively. Any Poor Law authority, call it 
by what name you may, is necessarily confined to dealing with persons 
who are actually " destitute " or actually " in distress " ; it cannot reach 
out to anticipate, at the incipient stage, what will, if not arrested in its 
growth, eventually become destitution or distress. Similarly, a Poor 
Law authority must necessarily find its operations restricted to the 
period during which persons are "destitute" or "in distress," though 
it is precisely some disciplinary "after care" which may be needed 
to prevent a relapse. In short, except for the purpose of alleviating 
momentary suffering (for which alone it was originally intended), the 
money spent in the relief of the destitute, begun only when they are 
destitute, and discontinued as soon as they cease to be destitute, is simply 
wasted. If a hospital for the sick could, by the law of its being, only 
admit cases when " gangrene " had already set in, and had to discharge 
them the very moment that the " fever " had been reduced, it would 



APPENDIX ^ 347 

eflfect as few cures of the sick as the Poorhouse does of the destitute. 
Yet no Poor Law authority, whatever its name, can, in its treatment of 
the disease of destitution, transcend the corresponding limits. 

If we wish to prevent the very occurrence of destitution, and effec- 
tively cure it when it occurs, we must look to its causes. Now, deferring 
for the moment any question of human fallibility, or the " double dose 
of original sin," which most of us are apt to ascribe to those who suc- 
cumb in the struggle, the investigations of this Royal Commission reveal 
three broad roads along one or other of which practically all paupers 
come, namely : (a) sickness, howsoever caused, (b) neglected infancy and 
neglected childhood, whosoever may be in fault, and (c) unemployment 
(including " under-employment "), by whatsoever occasioned. If we 
could prevent sickness, however caused, or effectually treat it when it 
occurs ; if we could ensure that no child, whatever its parentage, went 
without what we may call the National Minimum of Nurture and 
Training ; and if we could provide that no able-bodied person was left 
to suffer from long-continued or chronic unemployment, we should 
prevent at least nine-tenths of the destitution that now costs the Poor 
Law Authorities of Scotland more than a million per annum. To break 
up the Poor Law, and to transfer its several services to the Local 
Education, Health, Lunacy, and Pension Authorities, and to a national 
authority for the able-bodied, is to hand over the task of treating 
curatively the several sections of the destitute to authorities charged with 
the prevention of the several causes of destitution from which those sections 
are suffering. This means a systematic attempt to arrest each of the 
principal causes of eventual destitution at the very outset, in the most 
incipient stage of its attack, which is always an attack of an indi^ddual 
human being, not of the family as a whole. It is one person, at the 
outset, who has the cough of incipient phthisis, not a whole family; 
though if no preventive force is brought to bear, destitution will 
eventually set in and the whole family will be on our hands. There may 
be in the family neglected infants, neglected children, or feeble-minded 
persons lacking proper care or control, who may not be technically 
destitute, who may even be dependents of able-bodied men in work, but 
who, if left uncared for, will inevitably become the destitute of subsequent 
years. Hence it is vital that the Local Health Authority should be 
empowered and required to search out and ensure proper treatment for 
the incipient stages of all diseases. It is vital that the Lunacy Authority 
should be empowered and required to search out and ensure proper 
care and control for all persons certifiable as mentally defective, long 
before the family to which they belong is reduced to destitution. It is 
vital that the Local Education Authority should be empowered and 
required to search out and ensure, quite irrespective of the family's 
destitution, whatever Parliament may prescribe as the National Minimum 
of nurture and training for all children, the neglect of which will other- 
wise bring these children, when they grow up, themselves to a state of 
destitution. It is becoming no less clear that some Authority — we say a 
National Authority — must register and deal with the man who is 
unemployed, long before extended unemployment has demoralised him 
and reduced his family to destitution. We wish to put the issue quite 



348 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

clearly before the public. The systematic campaign for the prevention 
of the occurrence of destitution that we propose — that the community 
should undertake by grappling with its principal causes at the incipient 
stages, when they are just beginning to affect one or other members of a family 
only, long before the family as a whole has sunk into the morass of 
destitution — involves treating the individual member who is affected in 
respect of the cause of his complaint, even before he is "disabled" or in 
pecuniary distress. It means a systematic searching out of incipient cases, 
just as the Medical Officer of Health searches out infectious disease, or 
the School Attendance Officer searches out children who are not on the 
school roll, even before application is made. 

At present, the Local Education Authorities, the Local Health 
Authorities, and the Local Lunacy Authorities only feebly and imperfectly 
grapple with their task of arresting the causes of destitution in the child, 
the sick person, or the person of unsound mind, partly because they have 
only lately begun this part of their work, but principally because they 
have not been legally empowered and legally required to do it. Moreover, 
they do not yet have forced on their attention, as they would if they had 
to maintain those who needed to be cured, the extent to which they fail to 
prevent. If the Health Committee knew that it would have eventually 
to maintain the sick men whom it allowed to sink gradually into phthisis, 
as it has now practically to maintain persons who contract small-pox, it 
would look with a different eye upon the Medical Officer of Health's 
desire to " search out " every case of incipient phthisis whilst it is yet 
curable, to press upon the ignorant sufferer the best hygienic advice, and 
to do what is necessary in order to enable the insidious progress of the 
disease to be arrested. This does not entail that all diseases shall be 
treated free, any more than the Public Health supervision of sanitation 
entails that bad landlords shall have their house drainage provided at the 
public cost. All the increased activity of the Public Health authorities 
in searching out and treating sickness may coincide with a systematic 
enforcement of personal responsibility in respect to personal hygiene and 
with regard to the maintenance in health of dependents, which we, in 
fact, recommend. The break-up of the Poor Law implies, in short, not 
only the adoption of a systematic crusade against the several preventable 
causes of destitution, but also a far more effective enforcement of parental 
responsibility than is at present practicable. 

It may, however, be objected that there are, at any rate, the families 
to be dealt with which are now in a state of destitution ; and that, 
moreover, it must be anticipated, even with uniformly good administration 
of the preventive services, there will not be a few families who, as 
"missed cases," will have slipped into destitution, without having had 
their descent arrested by the preventive action above described. We 
think that each member of even such a family requires, for restoration, 
specialised treatment according to his or her need. The infant, the child 
of school age, the mentally defective, the sick, the infirm or incapacitated, 
the boy or girl above school age, and finally the able-bodied and able- 
minded adult, each requires that something different should be done for 
him or her, if that individual is to be properly dealt with. The 
alternative, namely, to treat the family as a whole, means to place it in 



APPENDIX 349 

the General Mixed Poorliouse, or merely to give it a dole of Outdoor 
Relief. This, indeed, is to-day the dominant practice ; and as such, has 
heen condemned by Majority and Minority alike. It must, we think, be 
admitted that the several members of the family, with their very diflferent 
needs, cannot be wisely treated without calling in the public authorities 
specialising on those beads, such as the Education, Health, Lunacy, 
Pension, and Unemployment Authorities. This does not mean that the 
needs of the other members of the family will escape consideration. 
Assuming that tbe cause of the destitution in which the family is plunged 
is tbe sickness of the breadwinner, and that the other members of the 
family are all normal, the Health Authority will, if he thinks domiciliary 
treatment desirable, not only give the necessary medical attendance, and 
look after tbe whole family environment by its Health Visitor, but, if 
there is no income, will grant (subject to the statutory rules and the 
Council's own Bye-laws) the home aliment that is requisite for the 
family maintenance. Would any one suggest that the Health Committee, 
with its Medical Officer and its Health Visitor, should be excluded from 
this case, or that it sbould be precluded from treating tbe case at home 
when tbe doctor reports that it can properly be so treated ? If there is 
a mentally defective person in such a family, ought the Lunacy 
Authority to be kept out % If there are children of school age in it, is it 
wise to prevent the intervention of the Education Authority and its 
School Attendance Officer? We suggest tbat it is the business of tbe 
officers of the County or Town Council — in particular the Registrar of 
Public Assistance whom we have proposed — to see {a) tbat these 
Authorities do not overlap, and (6) that they are all consulted as regards 
such members of the family as come within their respective spheres of 
treatment. We see no need for any general Poor Law or " Public 
Ass^ance Committee " at all. 

rriius tbere are two main reasons for the Scheme of Reform that we 
propose. By breaking up the Poor Law into its component services, and 
transferring eacb of these to the organ of government which is already 
performing tlve same service for the pop^dation at large, we (a) stop the 
present overlapping and confusion, (6) continue the evolution whicb has 
been silently going on in Scotland for a whole generation, and (c) intro- 
duce a logical order into both Central and Local Government. But the 
scheme has a far larger and deeper significance than any increase in 
administrative efficiency or any promotion of economy and simplicity in 
Local Government. The reform that we advocate, by emphasising every- 
where the Principle of Prevention, and especially by systematically search- 
ing out neglected infancy and childhood, preventable sickness, uncontrolled 
feeble-mindedness and uncared-for epilepsy, unwarded vagrancy and that 
hopeless worklessness that is so demoralising to mind and body, brings 
with it the sure and certain hope that we may, at no distant date, by 
patient and persistent effort on these lines, remove from our midst the 
intolerable infamy to a Christian and civilised State of the persistence of 
a mass of chronic destitution, spreading like a cancerous growth from one 
generation to another of our fellow-citizens, i 



350 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

The " Moral Factor " in Destitution 

Such being the grounds for our proposals, we have sought to weigh 
and appreciate the various arguments that can be urged against them. 
The most radical objection, and we infer the most deeply felt, against 
the Supersession of the Poor Law Authority by the various specialised 
and preventive Authorities that are already at work, seems to be a con- 
viction that, in proposing to treat the problem of destitution as one of 
Sickness or Mental Defect, of Infirmity or Old Age, of Unemployment 
or Neglected Childhood, we are ignoring the "moral factor." It is 
alleged that, among all paupers, notwithstanding the different roads by 
which they may have come to destitution, there is a certain moral taint ; 
and that, in view of the importance of properly treating this defect of 
character, all paupers, whatever their age or sex or physical or mental 
condition ought to be dealt with by an authority specialising on this defect ; 
and this, it is assumed, is what the Poor Law Authority is, or should be 
made to become. In order that we may be quite sure that we are stating 
this objection fairly, we quote the exact words of the most accomplished 
opponent of our proposals, Professor Bernard Bosanquet : — 

" The antagonism cannot be put too strongly. The Majority 
proceed upon the principle that where there is a failure of social 
self-maintenance in the sense above defined, there is a defect in the 
citizen character, or at least a grave danger to its integrity ; add 
that therefore every case of this kind raises a problem which is 
" moral," in the sense of affecting the whole capacity of self-manage- 
ment, to begin with, in the person who has failed, and secondarily, 
in the whole community so far as influenced by expectation and 
example. This relation to a man's whole capacity for self-manage- 
ment, his '^^ moral" is a distinctive feature, I take it, which separates 
the treatment required by the destitute or necessitous from anything 
that can be offered to citizens who are maintaining themselves in a 
normal course of life." ^ 

In this cogent argument for the retention of the Category of the 
Destitute, and of one Authority, and one Authority only, for all classes 
of destitute persons, we see two distinct and separate assumptions, one as 
to fact, and the other as to social expediency. We have first the suggestion 
that, in all classes of persons who need maintenance at the hands of the 
State, there is, as a matter of fact, a moral defect, common to the whole 
class, and requiring specific treatment. Secondly, we see creeping out 
from behind this suggestion, a further assumption as to the policy Avhich 
ought to be pursued bj^ the Poor Law Authority. This Authority, which 
is to have in its charge all the heterogeneous population of infants, children, 
sick and mentally defective persons, the aged and the infirm, the widows, 
the vagrants, and the unemployed, is to treat them, not with a single 
eye to what is best calculated to turn them, or any of them, into efficient 
citizens, not even with a single eye to what will most successfully remedy 

1 " The Majority Report," by Professor Bernard Bosanquet, in Sociological Revieio, 
April 1909 (vol. ii-'No. 2). 



APPENDIX 351 

the " moral defect " which they are assumed all to possess, but with the 
quite different object of warning off or deterring, " by expectation and 
example," other persons for applying for like treatment. In other words, 
we must, by keeping all the different varieties of people who require State 
aid under one Authority, and under one that assumes the existence of 
this " moral defect," retain for all alike, not only the " stigma of pauper- 
ism," but also a method of provision which will " deter " others from 
coming to be treated. \^s this is the only philosophical argument that 
we have encountered, by way of justification for the existence of one 
Authority, and one Authority only, to v/hich the State should indis- 
criminately commit the care of the infants, the children of school age, the 
sick, the mentally defective, the aged and infirm, the vagrants and the 
unemj)loyed workmen in distress, it requires detailed examination^ 

TLet us first examine the initial assumption that the miscellaneous 
multitude who, year by year, come on public funds for maintenance, are, 
as a matter of fact, one and all, characterised by a particular moral defect 
— a feature so uniform, so important, and so specific as to outweigh the 
differences between infants and adults, the healthy and the sick, the sane 
and the mentally defective, the aged and the able-bodied ; and to require 
the aggregation of all of them together under a single Authority in each 
locality, which should specialise upon this common characteristic. We 
have, in the first place, to realise that two-fifths of all the paupers are 
infants or children of school age ; that is to say, human beings rendered 
destitute, not by any action or inaction of their own, but through some- 
thing which has happened to their parents or guardians. An enormous 
proportion of these children are destitute merely because they are orphans, _ 
What rationaT ground have we for assuming, without enquiry, that these 
little ones are suffering from any "defect in the citizen character," or 
from any " moral " defect whatsoever % Their fathers may well have had 
defects, for thej'^ have died j though even with regard to them the more 
obvious inference would seem to be that they had physical defects or 
weaknesses ; and this, in view of the frequency of mere accident, cannot 
be deduced with any certainty. We can, at any rate, infer nothing as to 
the character of the mothers from the fact that the fathers have died. 
Moreover, even if we could make the assumption that the children of 
fathers who have died prematurely, or who from some other cause have 
left their offspring without property, necessarily inherited some weakness 
of character or specific moral defect, it does not seem to follow that the 
best way of counteracting this inheritance would be to herd such children 
together, to segregate them apart from normal children, to brand them as 
paupers, and to commit them to the care of an Authority not specially _ 
concerned with dealing with children as children, but regarding children 

as" only one variety of the jiauper class. It seems clear that the real 

justification for keeping together alL.the infants and~cEildren whom the 
Stat¥Tias to maintain,' and for excluding them from the care of the Local 
EdUcalion Authority, is not any consideration of what is likely to be .nf*" 
besf for such children — not even what is best calculated to counteract 
any disadvantageous tendencies that some of them may have inherited — 
but the second assumption to which we drew attention, namely, that it 
is expedient so to treat those whom the State must maintain that other 



352 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

persons will not, " by expectation and example," be led to apply for 
'sfmilaf treatment. The argument, in short, is really one for affixing the " 
" stigma of pauperism" to all the children that the State has to maintain, 
not because this will make them grow up into efficient citizens — even, 
perhaps, at the cost of injuriously affecting their education and their 
U, ciiaracter — but in order merely to prevent other children becoming 
*^ chargeable. This policy of definitely " Poor Law treatment " for the 
Children of the State, the Scottish Parish Councils, to their honour, have 
always repudiated. But if this policy' of " Poor Law treatment " of the 
child is repudiated — if the State is really to set itself to bring up the 
boys and girls whom it finds on its hands with a single eye to their 
development into efficient citizens — why should the State not use for 
them the organ which it has fashioned for this very purpose ? What 
ground is there for treating the child as a pauper at all, when the Local 
Education Authority stands there, in every parish, already authorised by 
law to provide all that is requisite, and prepared to treat the child simply 
as a chi ld ? 1 

Passing from the two-fifths of the paupers who are infants or children, 
we have then to realise that something like another two-fifths of all 
those who, in Scotland, apply for maintenance are not merely "disabled" 
in the technical sense, but are definitely suftering from some specific 
" disease or chronic infirmity of body, for which they have to be medically 
treated. If the patient happens to be suffering from certain diseases, 
which are specified in an ever-lengthening schedule, the argument about 
the "defect in the citizen character," and the "grave danger to its 
integrity " is abandoned ; the sick person is then, by common consent, 
searched out, urged to accept State aid, freely maintained at the public 
expense, and — what is very significant to us in this argument — treated 
without the slightest pretence that he has a moral defect, and without 
any idea of cui'ing that defect, or avoiding the danger to his integrity, but 
simply and solely with the object of restoring him at the earliest moment 
to physical health. Meanwhile the responsible Authority is at work 
effecting, by cleansing, disinfecting, draining, and improving the housing, 
the water-supply, and the general sanitation, alterations in the environment 
in which the disease has occurred, in order to prevent its recurrence, 
either in that patient or in any one else. The patients of the Local 
Health Authority, though their numbers are growing day by day, the 
Majority Report leaves outside the " one Authority and only one 
Authority" which (as it is suggested) ought to deal with all those for 
whom maintenance has to be provided. "Whilst we on the Poor Law 
Commission were deliberating, the Local Government Board for Scotland 
added to this class all the enormous number of persons suffering from 
tuberculosis.^ In spite of the fact that the more enterprising of the 
Parish Councils are already beginning to provide extensively for phthisis 
patients in their Poorhouses, the work is now to be undertaken by the 
Local Health Authorities. We note that the Majority Report makes no 
protest against this enormous extension of the area of overlap between the 
two sets of Authorities, and expressly assumes that, to the extent that 

^ Circular of 10th March, 1906, of Local Government Board for Scotland. 



APPENDIX 353 

tuberculosis prevails among the present pauper host, the Poor Law is to 
be broken up, and its functions gradually taken over by the Local Health 
Authorities. Apparently it is admitted that, with regard to persons 
suffering from tuberculosis in any of its forms, we must give up the 
assumption that they have some " defect in the citizen character," in 
common with the vagrants and the unemployed workmen ; or at any rate 
we must give up any idea of treating them for this moral defect or grave 
danger to their integrity. 

What the public welfare requires is, as is now admitted, that these 
sick persons should be treated with a single eye to arresting the course 
of their disease, and restoring them as soon as possible to physical health. 
Moreover, as sickness is plainly, to an undefined extent, the result of bad 
environment — of overcrowding, insanitation, imwholesome food, polluted 
water, or injurious conditions of employment — it is important that it 
should be in the hands of an authority officially cognisant of this environ- 
ment, and empowered to alter that which is producing the sickness. The 
question necessarily arises whether there is any ground for dealing with 
any neglected sick persons who need medical treatment, in any different 
way from that in which we have now decided to treat phthisis patients — 
whether we have any more ground for assuming the co-existence of a 
"defect in the citizen character" or "grave danger to its integrity," 
along with cancer, rheumatism, lead poisoning, hernia, or varicose veins, 
than along with pulmonary consumption — whether, in fact, the State 
has any justification for treating any sick person at all otherwise than 
with a single eye to arresting their diseases and preventing their 
occurrence in others — whether in the interests of the community as a 
whole we are not bound to drop the idea of " deterring " the sick " by 
expectation and example " from coming to be cured, and are not bound 
therefore to put the whole function into the hands of the organ which 
the State has created for the prevention and treatment of disease, namely, 
the Local Health Authority % 

When we turn to the aged, who make up the bulk of the remainder 
of the pauper host, the question of whether or not we can assume the 
universal existence of a "defect in the citizen character" or "grave 
danger to its integrity " becomes irrelevant. As there can, speaking 
practically, be no idea of improving the character of the aged, it is 
difficult to see why it should be suggested that the worn-out men and 
women for whom the State has to provide, and whose moral defects 
cannot now be cured, should necessarily be merged with the persons 
whose assumed moral defects are still curable, and who are therefore to 
be placed under an Authority specialising on this business of treating the 
"defect in the citizen character" that always accompanies the need for 
State maintenance. In the case of the aged, in fact, the assumption that 
they should be placed under a Poor Law Authority with a view to 
remedying their assumed defects becomes hypocritical. In their case, it 
is clear, their retention in the class " pauper," and their relegation to the 
Poor Law Authority, is advocated, not for their own good. They are, it 
is suggested, to be accorded a treatment other than that which the State 
would otherwise afford to them — that is to say, they are to suffer the 
stigma of pauperism — merely in order " by expectation and example " to 

2 A 



354 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

deter other persons from taking advantage in their old age of the 
maintenance which the State affords. This policy we are relieved from 
having to characterise, because by the passing of the Old Age Pensions 
Act of 1908, the community has, even whilst we were deliberating, 
definitely declared against it. We see, therefore, no need whatsoever, 
now that there is in every County and Burgh a special Authority for the 
aged (the Local Pension Committee), for relegating any aged persons to 
the Poor Law Authority. 

Of the non-able bodied paupers — and it is for the non-ablebodied that 
the Scottish Poor Law lawfully provides — there remain only " the 
feeble-minded," and the epileptic, and the persons of " unsound mind," 
who make up nearly one- fifth of the whole of Scottish pauperism. 
Of this fifth, about two-thirds are already under the administrative 
care, not of the Poor Law Authority at all, but of the Local Lunacy 
Authority, whilst about one-third (including the epileptics, the uncertified 
imbeciles, and the merely feeble-minded) are still looked after by the 
Parish Councils. All these persons, we must admit, actually do have, 
co-existing with their pauperism, a "defect in the citizen character," 
a mental weakness frequently " moral " in its nature, and one which is 
coming more and more to be regarded as susceptible to appropriate 
treatment. Here then, if anywhere, one might think that there is 
ground for assigning these paupers to the Authority which is by its 
supporters assumed to specialise on the treatment of the specific " defect 
in the citizen character," which is asserted to be co-extensive with the 
need for State maintenance. But the Royal Commission on the Care 
and Control of the Feeble-minded, after exhaustively examining the 
subject and concentrating its whole attention iipon it, came to the 
conclusion that the Poor Law Authority was inherently unsuited for 
treating any kind of mentally defective person, and decided to recom- 
mend the removal of all such persons from the sphere of the Poor Law, 
and their being placed henceforth entirely in the hands of an Authority, 
the Local Lunacy Authority, which had both the special knowledge and 
the special machinery for treating Qie mental defectiveness that had been 
actually proved to exist, rather than the hypothetical " defect in the citizen 
character" that their need of State maintenance is supposed to imply. 
Our colleagues who have signed the Majority Report, torn between 
their own assumption of the need for " one Authority and only one 
Authority " for all the destitute, and the very authoritative recom- 
mendations of the contemporary Royal Commission, have apparently 
been unable to come to any certain conclusion as to what they wish 
done with regard to this one-fifth of all the paupers. In the Majority 
Report for England and Wales, dated February 1909, our colleagues 
concurred with us in recommending the carrying out of the proposals 
of the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble- 
minded ; in desiring the transfer of all provision for the mentally 
defective to the Local Lunacy Authorities ; in urging the removal from 
this unfortunate class of the " stigma of pauperism," and in so far 
" breaking up the Poor Law," and departing from the idea of relegating all 
who needed State maintenance to "one Authority and one Authority 
only," which should treat them all for their assumed common " defect in 



APPENDIX 355 

the citizen character." ^ In the case of Ireland, where the lunatic 
asylums are at present entirely outside the Poor Law, and their inmates 
are not paupers, our colleagues, in their Majority Report, dated June 
1909, recommended exactly the opposite course from that which they 
proposed for England and Wales. Instead of transferring the feeble- 
minded to the Local Lunacy Authority, they recommended that the 
Local Lunacy Authority should cease to exist as a separate Authority ; 
and that all the lunatics and lunatic asylums should be transferred, 
along with the unemployed workmen and the infectious sick, to the new 
Authority that they wish to administer the Poor Law. "When we come 
to Scotland, our colleagues, in their Majority Report dated October 1909, 
maAe no recommendations on the subject at all as to the Authority ; "^ and 
are therefore in the position of implicitly endorsing the status quo, which, 
as we have mentioned, is one of overlap between the Poor Law and 
Lunacy Authorities, each of which has under its administrative care a 
certain proportion of the lunatics, idiots, imbeciles, epileptics, and 
feeble-minded for whom Scotland has to provide, and with regard to 
some of whom very inadequate provision is now made. We cannot 
agree to leave the matter in this way. We do not see that the nature 
of lunacy or feeble-mindedness differs in the three Kingdoms to such 
an extent as to warrant three different policies in its treatment. We 
think that the first mind of our colleagues was the best. We, like the 
Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded, see 
no reason why lunatics should be treated as paupers any more than as 
criminals. We certainly see no reason why Scottish lunatics and feeble- 
minded should remain paupers, when English lunatics and feeble-minded 
are to be relieved from this stigma. We, therefore, think that Scotland 
should see to it that the mentally defective of all grades are, at the 
earliest possible moment, wholly removed from the Poor Law and the 
Poor Law Authority, and placed entirely under the care of the special 
Lunacy Authority, which can deal with them with a single eye to the 
needs of their condition. 

1 " With regard to this class, their case is fully dealt with in the Report of the 
Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded. If, as we hope, 
the recommendations of that Commission are carried into effect, a system of control 
over the feeble-minded will be initiated which will free the Poor Law Administration 
from one of its greatest difficulties. Meanwhile, we think that, as a provisional 
measure, the Poor Law Authorities should be given power to detain feeble-minded 
persons who come under their care" (Majority Report for England and Wales, 
Part IX, par. 151, Class IL (a)). 

2 We find merely a recommendation that powers of detention of unmarried 
mothers be given to the Poor Law Authority. ' ' We think that if they can be 
medically certified as feeble-minded, they should be detained by a judicial warrant 
authorising such detention, and we approve the recommendations to that effect 
made by the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded " 
(Majority Report for Scotland, Part III. ch. xii. sec. 323). In a later section of the 
Report, in describing the cases in which it is recommended that the Poor Law 
Authority should exercise powers of " detention or continuous treatment," we read 
that "All feeble-minded persons, whether unmarried mothers or others, should, we 
think, be subject to complete control on the lines laid down by the Commission on 
the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded. "—iit(?. Part VIL ch. v. sec. 66. We 
can only infer that our colleagues wish to retain these persons in Scotland under the 
Poor Law Authority, and to continue to include them as paupers. 



3S6 ENGLISH POOR LA VV POLICY 

"We proceed now to consider tlie last section of all, tlie adult able- 
bodied man or woman without means, who becomes destitute through not 
being in employment at wages. We think that it is invidious and 
unwarranted to assume that such unemployment is, in any particular 
case, wholly or even mainly the result of any " defect of the citizen 
character." We have been unable to resist the evidence that unemploy- 
ment, and even acute distress from unemployment, comes, as a matter of 
fact, to workmen of excellent skill and character. We have been much 
impressed, amid the heterogeneous crowd of " the unemployed," by the 
number of worthy and capable men who have found themselves thrown 
out of long-held situations by the bankruptcy of their employers, by some 
change of industrial process, by the invention of a new machine, or by 
the decay of particular industries. In these cases, as has been well 
brought out by Mr. W. H. Beveridge,^ the very excellence of the work- 
man, by his long continuance in the groove to which the employer has 
required him to fit, may have rendered him less capable of obtaining 
another situation, and even less able to fill it when found. Notwith- 
standing the frequency of cases of this sort, it is, we think, clear that a 
majority of those who, in any given state of trade, come into distress 
through long-continued unemployment or chronic " under-employment," 
are — with many individual exceptions — either the less strong or the less 
fit, the less skilled or the less capable, the less responsible or the less 
regular in their industry of the wage- earning community. Hence 
though it is the relative defectiveness of the social environment (such as 
the lack of organisation of the Labour Market, or the anarchic fluctuations 
of trade) that in the main determine the amount of Under-emj)loyment,^ 
or the degree to which Under-employment prevails, at any given place 
and time, it is the relative defectiveness of one wage-earner as compared 
Avith another that in the main determines upon which individuals the 
Unemployment or Under-employment will actually fall. This fact, 
though it does not relieve us from the necessity of providing for these 
individuals, serves as a warning against certain proposed methods of 
provision. Moreover, whilst persons cannot voluntarily become infants or 
children, or aged or mentally defective, in order to qualify for the provision 
which the State makes for these sections, and are not likely to make 
themselves acutely sick or permanently infirm in order to get medically 
treated, even if this incidentally includes their maintenance, there is an 
obvious danger that the lower types of men will tend to become destitute 
through chronic unemployment, if " by expectation and example " thej 
see any chance of maintenance without sustained eftbrt, under conditions 
as pleasant to them as work at wages. Hence, in the case of the able- 
bodied, it is true that the result of the State provision on the amount 
and quality of productive efi"ort, not only in the persons treated, but also 
in all those who might " by expectation and example " be led to apply 
for treatment, becomes the paramount consideration. 

The suggestion that " where there is a failure of social self-maintenance 
, . . there is a defect in the citizen character, or at least a grave danger 
to its integrity," is, indeed, in any careful analysis, seen to be true, if at 

1 Unemployment, by W. H. Beveridge, 1909. 



APPENDIX 357 

all, of the able-bodied and of the able-bodied only. It is exactly because 
we realise the overwhelming importance to the character of the com- 
munity of stimulating, in all sections of the able-bodied, the desire and 
faculty for self-maintenance, that we urge the necessity of having an 
Authority dealing with the able-bodied, and with the able-bodied only. 
It is, we suggest, just because the Parish Council, as a Poor Lav.- 
Authority, has been required to be simultaneously a Hospital Authority 
for the sick, an Asylum Authority for the mentally defective, an Educa- 
tion Ai;thority for the children, and a Pension Authority for the aged, 
that it has never been able to deal efficiently with the able-bodied. If 
it had been able to keep its Poorhouse exclusively for the able-bodied 
— even for the able - bodied whom the medical officer felt obliged to 
certify as temporarily disabled lest they should starve to death — it might, 
at any rate, by appropriate discipline, have stopped the Poorhouse from 
becoming a visible source of deterioration of the able-bodied inmates. 
The inference, therefore, that we draw from the argument as to the 
" moral factor " in destitution, of which, in the case of the able-bodied, 
we recognise the full force, is that it is imperative that there should be, 
not one Authority for all persons needing public assistance, whatever 
their age, sex, or condition, but owe Authority for all the adult able-bodied 
fersons who are not specially certified as sick or permanently incapaci- 
tated, as mentally defective, or as having attained a specified limit of age. 
We regard the wise treatment of all such adult able-bodied persons as have 
to be maintained from public funds as being of such great difficulty and 
complexity as to demand, not only that it should be the work of a single 
Ai.thority specialising on their problem, but also that this Authority 
should be one free from the influences of particular localities, and able to 
command the highest administrative skill that the nation can supply. 

There is an additional reason for not thrusting the able-bodied un- 
employed person into the hands of a new Poor Law Authority restricted 
to the function of relieving destitution. Up to the present, the Scottish 
Poor Law has not included any provision whatsoever for the able-bodied, 
the only lawful method of relief from public funds being that afforded 
by the Distress Committee under the Unemployed Workmen Act of 
1905. Hence the famous principle of the English Poor Law reform of 
1834 — that the condition of the able-bodied pauper should always be 
less eligible than that of the lowest grade of independent labourer — has 
never been adopted by the administrators of the Scottish Poor Law. 
To transfer, as is proposed by our colleagues in the Majority Report, the 
whole responsibility for the able-bodied unemployed from the Distress 
Committees to a new Poor Law, or, as they say, PubUc Assistance 
Authority, would, we think, inevitably tend to introduce into Scotland 
a principle which has, in England, proved a complete failure. We now 
see that the condition of the lowest grade of independent labourer — 
whether he is chronically "under-employed" like the whole class of 
dock and other casual labourers, or " sweated " like the home-working 
chairmaker or slipper-maker — is so deplorably below the level of adequate 
subsistence that to make the lot of the pauper " less eligible " means to 
reduce him below any acceptable standard of civilised existence. It has 
been found, in fact, impossible to give the pauper less food, less clothing, 



3S8 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

less rest and sleep, or less eligible housing accommodation than that of 
the lowest grade of independent labourer without actually and obviously 
impairing his physical health. Hence the alternative has been to con- 
centrate the *' less eligibility " on the conditions of the paiiper's mental 
life. However worthy and innocent have been the able-bodied applicants 
for Poor Law relief, the policy of the English Poor Law has been to 
degrade them in their own eyes and in the eyes of the public, to exclude 
them from citizenship by depriving them (though not the convicted 
criminals) of the right to be placed on the electoral register ; to subject 
them to hard labour of the most monotonous and useless character, such 
as stone-breaking or corn-grinding, or even oakum-picking ; to subject 
them to the shameful promiscuity of the General Mixed Workhouse or 
the gaol-like severities of the Able-bodied Test Workhouse ; and this 
"deterrent" treatment has, by the very principles of the Poor Law, had 
to be meted out to all comers, whether or not they have been found, as 
a matter of fact, to have any moral defect at all. This "principle of 
less eligibility " has been, in fact, in the English Poor Law, a mere device 
for mechanically diminishing, " by expectation and example," able-bodied 
pauperism — meaning help from the Poor Eate. It has been found wholly 
ineffective (and has, indeed, stood in the way of the adoption of anything 
effective) for diminishing the able-bodied destitution which leads presently 
to pauperism, as well as for striking at the causes which bring men to 
this destitution. This policy of " less eligibility," into which any Poor 
Law Authority is only too apt to be driven in dealing with the able- 
bodied, seems to us so futile and so barbarous in its inhumanity, and 
leads to such demoralising forms of parasitism on the labour of women 
and children, on begging and vagrancy, and even on a career of crime, 
that we should regard its introduction into Scotland, by the new Public 
Assistance Authorities that our colleagues propose, as nothing less than a 
national disaster. 

We think that the time has come for the nation definitely to repudiate 
the policy of " deterring " persons who are destitute from coming under 
the care and control of the State ; and this equally when the destitute 
persons are able-bodied and when they are sick or mentally defective. 
We urge the deliberate adoption of the opjjosite principle of searching 
out those who are in any respect destitute, with a view to taking hold of 
their cases at the earliest possible moment, when they may still be curable, 
and of enforcing on all able-bodied persons the obligation to maintain 
themselves and their dependants in health and efficiency. We consider 
that it is now possible to proceed with regard to unemployment on the 
same general lines as we proceed with regard to illiteracy in children and 
with regard to infectious disease. We recommend that, by the systematic 
enforcement of parental responsibility for the condition of all dependants 
by the Local Education Authority and the Local Health Authority, and 
by the systematic suppression of mendicity and vagrancy by the Local 
Police Authority, every person who is not in a position to provide 
for his wife and children, or who wilfully or negligently abstains from 
doing so, should — whether or not he applies for assistance — stand revealed 
to the new Authority that we propose for dealing with the able-bodied. 
By an organised use of the National Labour Exchange this Authority 



APPENDIX 359 

will be able to ascertain whether there are possibilities of employment 
for such men, and where such openings are, and what is the kind of 
training that they require. If resort to the National Labour Exchange 
becomes general among employers, and if it is made compulsory on those 
who take on hands for casual jobs, it will be possible for the Authority 
so to "dovetail" jobs and seasonal occupations as to go far towards 
ensuring continuous employment for those who are taken on at all. 
There wiU remain the persons who by this very " decasualisation " of 
labour and suppression of chronic " under-employraent " are squeezed out 
of their present miserable partial earnings. For these it must be the 
duty of the National Authority to provide, and, as soon as possible, 
absorb them in productive industry. Fortunately there is at hand in the 
diminution of boy labour by the increasing absorption of the boy's time 
in technical education, in the reduction of excessive hours of labour on 
railways, tramways, and omnibuses, and in the withdrawal of the mothers 
of young children from the labour market when they are required, as a 
condition of their aliment, to devote themselves to their family, together 
with the possibilities of development opened up by afforestation, etc., 
which we have elsewhere suflBciently described, more than enough oppor- 
tunities for the absorption of this temporary surplus. But the cyclical 
fluctuations of trade, with the consequent waxing and waning of the 
aggregate demand of productive industry, must always be counted on ; 
and these cyclical fluctuations in demand for labour, as we have shown, 
can be counteracted, and the volume of wage-earning employment in the 
country as a whole maintained at something like a constant level, by a 
mere rearrangement over each decade, of the Government works and 
orders that must in any case be executed within the decade, though not 
necessarily, as at present, in equal instalments year by year. All this 
organised attempt to prevent unemployment, which we regard as the 
primary duty of the National Authority, though we have reason to 
believe that it can obviate the greater part of the involuntary lack of 
work from which so many of the wage-earners now suffer, will not, of 
course, completely secure every individual workman in permanent 
employment. To provide for such cases we look, in the main, to a great 
extension of Trade Union insurance, rendered possible to many more in- 
dustries than can yet organise " out of work benefit " by adequate sub- 
ventions from public funds on the lines of the well-known Ghent system. 
Finally, when all this is done, the National Authority for the able-bodied 
will still have on its hands those who are for one reason or another unin- 
sured, and for whom, whether from their own faults or defects or not, 
the Labour Exchange fails to find a situation. But even these must not 
be deterred from coming under care and control, and must, in the public 
interest, not be kept at arm's length to degenerate or become demoralised. 
For them the National Authority must provide maintenance, with 
adequate Home Aliment for their dependants, in the way that we have 
described, and under the course of physical and industrial training best 
calculated to make them more fit than they now are for the work which 
the Labour Exchange will, sooner or later, be able to find for them. "We 
see no reason for penal conditions, such as have prevailed in the English 
Able-bodied Test Workhouses, for any honest and willing man. Only 



36o ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

when a man has been definitely proved to be unwilling to work for the 
maintenance of himself and his dependants, or persists in recalcitrancy 
and refusal to co-operate in his own cure, need he be committed by the 
magistrates to a Detention Colony, there to be treated in whatever way 
is found best adapted to remedy the moral defect which he will then have 
been actually convicted of possessing. 

To sum ujj, we hold it untrue and unwarranted to suggest that all 
those whom the State finds on its hands as destitute — the infants and 
children, the sick and the mentally defective, the aged and the unem- 
ployed able-bodied — have necessarily any moral taint or defect in common, 
for which they need all to be treated by a single Authority, or can pro- 
perly all be treated by such an authority, specialising on this presumed 
common attribute. We hold, on the contrar^^, that experience has demon- 
strated that, although individuals in all sections of the destitute may be 
morally defective, and this in all sorts of different ways, the great mass 
of destitution is the direct and (given human nature as it is) almost in- 
evitable result of the social environment in which the several sections 
have found themselves ; and that it can, to a large and as yet undefined 
extent, be obviated if the cases are taken in time, and the environment 
appropriately changed. We suggest that the failure of the existing Poor 
Law Authorities is due mainly to the fact that, as Poor Law Authorities, 
they are inherently incapable of getting hold of the cases in time before 
destitution has set in, and that they are necessarily prevented, by their 
very nature as " Destitution Authorities," from changing the social 
environment which is bringing about the destitution, or from providing 
the new environment that is necessary, whether by way of treatment or 
by way of disciplinary supervision after actual treatment, either for the 
infants or for the children, for the sick or for the mentally defective, for 
the aged and infirm or for the unemployed able-bodied. We consider 
that it is proved, by the experience of the several specialised and pre- 
ventive Authorities that have been established for this purpose, that the 
arrest of the causes of destitution, and the necessary changes in the social 
environment, can be effected only by making each such Authority re- 
sponsible for its own special part of the work of prevention, and for 
providing the appropriate treatment for the particular section of persons 
in whom it may have failed to prevent destitution. We fully admit the 
importance of the " moral factor " in contributing to the production of 
some of the destitution in all the sections ; but the moral defect is not 
always in the destitute person himself, and we hold that this "moral 
factor" can never be effectually dealt with, and can never be subjected to 
the disciplinary and reformatory treatment that it requires, until we give 
up assuming its existence where we have no actual proof, and until we 
are prepared to base such treatment solely upon the definite conviction, 
by judicial process, of particular individuals for particular offences. In 
no case, whether individually innocent or morally guilty, do we think 
that the destitute person should be refused treatment, or "deterred " from 
applying for it. On the contrary, we hold that every destitute person 
not under treatment is a menace to the commonweal ; and the public 
authorities should therefore search out all such cases, as if they were cases 
of typhus, and endeavour to get hold of them at the most incipient stage 



APPENDIX 361 

of the disease. And if we are asked what we would substitute for the 
" deterrent " treatment of the Poor Law, in order to protect the State 
from being eaten up by a multitude of applicants for its aid, we reply 
that in no case do we suggest the provision of maintenance, or of any 
form of public assistance, otherwise than in the guise of the most 
appropriate treatment for the actual disease or infirmity or lack that the 
individual is demonstrated to be suffering from ; that this treatment is 
not necessarily gratuitous, efficient provision being made for recovery of 
cost wherever there is ability to pay ; that such treatment is never un- 
conditional, and is from the very nature of the case disciplinary ; that it 
necessarily includes long-continued supervision, even after treatment ; and 
that co-operation in one's own cure, together with willingness to fulfil all 
parental, marital, and personal obligations, opportunity to doing so being 
provided, wUl for the first time be really enforced, and if necessary en- 
forced, when other means have failed, by commitment to a Detention 
Colony. 

Summary of Conclusions 

It is on all these grounds that we feel compelled to dissent from the 
recommendations of the Majority Report in favour of setting up a new 
Destitution Authority, which should administer relief only at the period 
of destitution, and which should have under its charge indiscriminately 
men, women, and children, the sick and the healthy, the infant and the 
aged, the unemployed workman and the incorrigible vagrant. We 
believe that the establishment of any such general Destitution Authority, 
under whatever designation, and however selected or appointed, would 
inevitably lead to the perpetuation of the General Mixed Poorhouse, and 
the customary dole of Aliment or Outdoor Relief. We cannot but fear 
that such a proposal means the abandonment of any hope of preventing 
the occurrence of Unemployment and the gradual sinking into destitution 
that we see going on ; that it implies practically a despairing acquiescence 
in the daily manufacture of " unemployables," and in the daily creation 
of new pauperism, which is the disquieting feature of the time. We, on 
the contrary, believe that destitution can he prevented, and that it is the 
business of the State, in its national and local organisation, to take the 
steps necessary to prevent it. In this dissent we have confined ourselves 
to argument as to the general principle. We have not attempted to make 
definite and detailed recommendations as to how the principle of break- 
ing up the Poor Law, and transferring its several services to the specialised 
preventive Authorities, should be applied to the present machinery of 
administration in Scotland. We do not feel qualified, for instance, to 
decide whether the care of the children can be best entrusted wholly to 
the School Boards, or whether, with a view to an equalisation of the 
rates, this work might advantageously be shared in by the County Com- 
mittees of districts under the Education (Scotland) Act of 1908. We do 
not pretend to advise whether the District Boards of Lunacy, with the 
new duties with regard to the feeble-minded, and the complete discon- 
nection of all their work from the Poor Law recommended by the Royal 
Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded, as well as by 
ourselves, should or should not be modified in constitution ; or whethei 



362 ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 

it might not be more advantageous for Scotland, and more calculated to 
relieve its local administration from an onerous and unequally distributed 
burden, if the whole work of providing for the mentally defective were 
made a national service and a national charge. With regard to the Local 
Health organisation, which has in some parts of Scotland to cope with 
great geographical difficulties, we do not feel warranted in making any 
definite recommendation as to the constitutions, areas, and powers of the 
present Health Authority in Burghs and Counties respectively. Nor do 
we think it necessary to pronounce upon the question of whether the 
National Department for the Able-bodied — with its Labour Exchanges, 
its help towards Insurance against Unemployment, its duty in regular- 
ising the seasonal trades and " decasualising " casual labour, its work in 
promoting the absorption of the surplus labourers who may be thus 
squeezed out, its attempts to regularise the aggregate national demand 
for labour, and its training establishments and Detention Colonies — should 
be separate and self-contained for Scotland, or whether it might not, like 
the Board of Trade and the Factory Inspection Department, more advan- 
tageously form part of the wider organisation for the United Kingdom as 
a whole. All these are administrative details to be determined by those 
personally acquainted with Scottish Local Government, and in accordance 
with Scottish public opinion. We must content ourselves with suggest- 
ing that, if it is thought that the time has come when we need no longer 
rest satisfied with merely relieving destitution, but can start an effective 
campaign for its prevention ; if it is felt that the children ought to be 
rescued from demoralisation and the sick from preventable disease and 
preventable suffering ; if it is desired to put an end to the demoralisation 
and destruction of character now caused by Unemployment, and especially 
by Under-employment, then we must proceed generally upon the lines 
herein laid down. 

We therefore recommend : — 

1. That the Scottish Poor Law be abolished, and in its stead an 
entirely different method of provision for those needing public aid be in- 
augurated, so as to get rid of pauperism, both the name and the thing. 

2. That a systematic Crusade against Destitution in all its forms be 
set on foot ; against the destitution caused by Unemployment, the destitu- 
tion caused by Old Age, the destitution caused by Feeble-mind edn ess and 
Lunacy, the destitution caused by Ill-health and Disease, and the destitu- 
tion caused by Neglected Infancy and Neglected Childhood. 

3. That the Local Education Authority be empowered and required 
to search out all children of school age within its district who are destitute 
of proper nurture, and to secure to them a fitting upbringing. 

4. That the Local Health Authority be empowered and required to 
search out all sick persons within its district who are destitute of medical 
attendance, all infants destitute of proper nurture, and all infirm persons 
needing medical attendance and nursing, and to apply the appropriate 
treatment, either in the homes or in suitable institutions. 

5. That the Lunacy Authority be empowered and required to search 
out all feeble-minded and mentally defective persons destitute of proper 
care and control, and to make appropriate provision for them. 



APPENDIX 363^^^ 

6. That the Local Pension Authority be empowered and required to 
search out all persons within its district who are destitute from old age, 
and to provide Old Age Pensions for such of them as are able and willing 
to live decently thereon. 

7. That a new National Authority be empowered and required to 
search out all able-bodied persons destitute of employment ; to take the 
necessary steps both to diminish, as far as practicable, the social disease 
of Unemployment, and to supply proper maintenance and training for 
those who are unemployed and unprovided for. 

8. That all these specialised and preventive Authorities be empowered 
and required to enforce, by counsel and warning, by the sustained pres- 
sure of public opinion, and where needed by process of law, the obliga- 
tion of all able-bodied persons to maintain themselves and their families 
in due health and efficiency. 



INDEX OF UNIONS AND OTHEE PLACES MENTIONED 



Aberayron, 322 
Abergavenny, 322, 324 
Aberystwitb, 322 
Abingdon, 23 n., 322 
Albaus, St. , 322 
Alcester, 322 
Aldevbury, 322, 337 
Aldershot, 217 n. 
Alnwick, 322 
Alstonfield, 322, 323, 331 
Alton, 322, 330 
Altrincbam, 322, 325 
Alverstoke, 322 
Amersbara, 322 
Amesbury, 322 
Ampthm, 322, 341 
Andcver, 75, 132, 322 
Andrew, St. (Whittlesey), 

340 
Anglesey, 322, 330 
Arrington, 326 
Arundel, 322, 327 
Asaph, St., 322 
Ash, 323, 328, 329 
Ashbourne, 322, 323 
Ashby de la Zouch, 323 
Ashford, 323 
Ashton-under-Lyne, 27 n., 

130 n., 323 
Aston, 23 71., 323 
Atcham, 109 n., 323, 337 
Atherstone, 323, 324 
Auckland, 323 
Austell, St., 323 
Australia, 141, 142 
Axbridge, 323 
Aylesbury, 323 
Aylsham, 323 
Aysgarth, 323 

Bainbridge, 323 

Bake well, 98 n., 107 n., 

180 n., 323 
Bala, 323 
Banbury, 323 
Bangor, 323 
Baruet, 323 



Barnsley, 128 ?j., 323 
Barnstaple, 323 
Barrow-in-Furness, 323, 339 
Barrow-on-Soar, 323 
Barton Regis, 323, 325, 

326, 339 
Barton - upon - Ir well, 323, 

326 
Barwick-in-Elmet, 323, 331, 

335, 338, 340 
Basford, 323 
Basingstoke, 323 
Bath, 173, 323 
Battle, 323 
Beaminster, 323 
Beaumaris, 323 
Bedale, 177 n., 323 
Bedford, 323 

Bedminster, 157 n., 323, 332 
Bedwellty, 322, 324 
Bedworth, 323, 324, 328, 

330, 332, 333, 336 
Belford, 324 
Bellingham, 324 
Belper, 324 
Belvoir, 329, 341 
Berkhampstead, 324 
Berkshire, 137 «., 138 w. 
Bermondsey, 101-102, 137 

n., 324, 333 
Berwick-on-Tweed, 324 
Bethnal Green, 324 
Beverley, 324 
Bichester, 324 
Bideford, 324 
Biggleswade, 324 
Billericay, 324 
Billesdon, 324 
Bingham, 324 
Birkenhead, 324, 341 
Birmingham, 163, 178, 

186 n., 208 w., 324 
Bishop Stortford, 324 
Bishopthorpe, 341 
Blaby, 324 
Blackburn, 324 
Blandford, 324 

365 



Blean, 324 

Blofield, 324 

Blything, 324 

Bodmin, 224 

Bolton, 324 

Bootle, 324 

Bosmere, 324 

Boston, 26 n., 324 

Buughton, Great, 324, 329 

Bourne, 237 n., 324 

Brackley, 324 

Bradfield, 37-38, 138 n., 
178, 252, 324 

Bradford (Wilts), 324 

Bradford (Yorks), 34 ?i., 
35, 96, 167 n., 171, 183, 
230-231 n., 234, 239, 
240 n., 241 n., 254 n., 
324, 334 

Braintree, 325, 341 

Bramley, 217 n., 325 

Brampton, 325 

Brecknock, 325 

Brentford, 325 

Bridge, 325 

Bridgend, 325 

Bridgnorth, 325 

Bridgwater, 325 

Bridlington, 325 

Bridport, 325 

Brighton, 325 

Brinton, 325, 339 

Bristol, 157 n., 253, 323^. 
325 

Brixworth, 253, 325 

Broadstairs, 188 n. 

Bromley, 325 

Bromsgrove, 325 

Bromyard, 325 

Buckingham, 325 

Bucklow, 322, 325 

Builth, 325 

Buntingford, 325 

Burnley, 325 

Burton-upon-Treut, 32& 

Bury, 325 

Bury St. Edmunds, 325- 



366 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Caistor, 237, 325, 329 
Calue, 325 

Camberwell, 139 n., 187, 
325 ' 

Cambridge, 325 

C'amelford, 325 

Canada, 142, 250 

Canuock, 325, 335 

Canterbury, 325 

Cardifl-, 325, 335 

Cardigan, 325 
Carlisle, 237 w,, 325 
Carlton, 325, 330, 331, 340 
Carmarthen, 325 
Carnarvon, 325 
Castle Ward, 325 
Catlierington, 26 «., 325 
Caton, 326, 331, 332 
Caxton, 326 
Cerne, 326 
Chailey, 326, 332 

Chapel-en-le-Frith, 326 
Cliard, 326 
Charterhouse, 322 
Cheadle, 326 
Chelmsford, 326 
Chelsea, 326 
Cheltenham, 326 
Chepstow, 326 
Chertsey, 27 n., 326 
Cheshire, 175 n. 
Chester, 245 n., 326, 329, 

338 
Chesterfield, 326 
Chester-le-Street, 326 
Chesterton, 326 
Chichester, 326 
Chippenham, 326 
Chipping Norton, 326 
Chipping Sodbury, 

326 
Chorley, 326 
Chorlton, 163 n., 168 n. 

214 w., 249, 323, 326 
Christchurch, 326 
Church Stretton, 326 
Cirencester, 326 
Clapham, 339 
Clavering, 333 
Claydon, 324 
Cleobury Mortimer, 326 
Clerkenwell, 326 
Clifton, 323, 326 
Clitheroe, 326 
Chni, 326 
Clutton, 326 
Cockermouth, 326 
Colchester, 34, 326 
Columb, St., 326 
Congletou, 326 
Conway, 326 
Cookham, 137 w., 326, 332 



323, 



Cornwall, 70 
Corweu, 173, 326 
Cosford, 326 
Coventry, 326 
Cowbridge, 325 
Cowley, 112 w. 
Cranborne, 340 
Cranbrook, 326 
Ciediton, 26 n., 326 
Crickhowell, 327 
Cricklade, 327 
Croydon, 217, 327 
Cuckfield, 327 



Darenth, 224, 225 
Darlington, 192 n., 327 
Dartford, 327 

Daventry, 327 

Depwade, 327, 329 

Derby, 327 

Devizes, 327 

Devonport, 327, 338 

Dewsbury, 327 

Docking, 327 

Dolgelly, 327 

Doncaster, 327 

Dorchester, 327 

Dore, 327 

Dorking, 327 

Dover, 327 

Downham, 327 

Drayton, 247 n., 327 
Driffield, 327 
Droitwich, 327 
Droxford, 327 
Dudley, 327 
Dulverton, 327 
Dunmow, 327 
Durham, 327 
Dursley, 327 



Easington, 327 

Easingwold, 327 

Eastbourne, 327, 340 

East Grinstead, 327 

Easthampstead, 327 

East Preston, 322, 327, 338 

East Eetford, 327 

Eastry, 327 

East Stouehouse, 327 

East Ward, 327 

Eccleshall Bierlow, 327 

Edmonton, 327, 329 

Elham, 327 

Ellesmere, 327, 340 
Ely, 327 
Epping, 328 
Epsom, 328 
Erpingham, 328, 337 
Escrick, 341 
Eton, 328 



Evesham, 90 n., 114 n.. 
328 ' 

Exeter, 328 

Faith, St., 328 

Falmouth, 328 

Fareham, 328 

Faringdou, 328 

Farnborough, 328, 329 

Famham, 217 w., 323, 328 

Faversham, 232 «., 328 

Festiniog, 328 

Flaxton, 341 

Flegg, East and Wesi, 328 
Foleshil], 26 n., 324, 328 
Forden, 328, 333 
Fordingbridge, 328 
Forehoe, 328 
Forest Gate, 190, 194 
France, 132 
Freebridge Lynn, 328 
Frome, 328 
Fulham, 328, 329 
Fylde, 328 



Gainsborough, 328 
Garstang, 328 
Gateshead, 238 n., 328 
George, St., Bloomsbury, 

u2o 
George, St., Hanover Square, 

240, 328, 333 
George, St., in the East, 

328 
George, St., the Martyr 

328 
George, St. (Union), 328 
Germans, St., 240 n., 328 
Germany, 132 
Giles, St. (Camberwell) 

o2to 
Giles, St., in the Fields, 119. 
"328 

Glanford Brigg, 329 
Gleudale, 241, 329 
Glossop, 329 
Gloucester, 329 
Godstone, 329 
Goole, 329 
Gosport, 322 
Gower, 329, 338 
Grantham, 249 n., 329, 341 
Gravesend, 329 
Great Boughton, 326, 329. 

340 
Great Ouseburn, 323 
Great Preston, 329, 330, 
331, 335, 337, 338, 339 
Great Yarmouth, 329, 334 

341 
Greenwich, 329, 341 
Grimsby, 325, 329 



INDEX OF UNIONS AND OTHER PLACES MENTIONED 367 



GuUdford, 323, 329 
Guiltcross, 326, 329, 339 
Guisborough, 329, 333 

Hackney, 246, 329 
Hadleigh, 171 
Hailsham, 329, 340 
Halifax, 329 
Halstead, 329 
Haltwhistle, 329 
Hambledon, 329 
Hammersmitli, 328, 329 
Hampstead, 327, 329 
Happing, 337, 339 
Hardingstone, 329 
Hartismere, 329 
Hartlepool, 329, 338 
Hartley Wintnev, 217 w., 

323, 328, 329" 
Hasliugden, 329 
Hastings, 329 
Hatfield, 329 
Havant, 329 
Haverfordwest, 329 
Hawarden, 326, 329, 338, 

341 
Hay, 329 
Hayfield, 330 
Headiugton, 330 
Headley, 322, 330, 335 
Helmsley, 330 
Helstou, 330 
Hemel Hempstead, 330 
Hemsworth, 25 n., 330 
Hendon, 330, 340 
Henley, 330 
Henstead, 330 
Hereford, 330 
Hertford, 330 
Hexham, 247 n., 330 
Highworth, 330, 338 
Hinckley, 324, 330 
Hitchin, 330 
Holbeach, 330 
Holbeck, 325, 330 
Holborn, 102, 103, 104 w., 

109, 119, 158, 322, 330, 

331, 332 
Hollingbourne, 330 
Holsworthy, 330 
Holyhead, 322, 330 
Holywell, 330 
Honiton, 330 
Hoo, 330 
Horncastle, 330 
Horsham, 330 
Houghton le Spring, 330 
Howden, 330 
Hoxne, 330 
Huddersfield, 330 
Hungerford, 330 
Hunslet, 325, 330, 336 



Huntingdon, 330 
Hursley, 330 

Inns of Court, 322 
Ipswich, 331 
Ireland, 118, 219 
Islington, 164 n., 331 
Ives, St., 331 

James, St. (Clerkenwell), 

330, 331 

James, St. (Westminster), 

331, 340 
Jarrow, 177 m. 

Keighley, 201, 247 «.., 331 
Kendal, 331 

Kensington, 163, 170, 331 
Kent, 70 

Kent, East, 57, 60 
Kettering, 331 
Keynsham, 331, 341, 342 
Kidderminster, 331 
Kingsbridge, 331 
Kingsclere, 331 
Kings Lynn, 331 
Kings Norton, 331 
Kingstou-upon-Hull, 331 
Kingston-on-Thames, 217, 

331 
Kington, 331, 336 
Kirkby Moorside, 330, 331 
Kirkdale, 112 n. 
Knaresborough, 331 
Knighton, 331, 336 

Laindon, 170 

Lambeth, 34, 212 «., 215 

«., 260, 332 
Lampeter, 331 
Lancashire, 59 n,, 90 w., 

91, 92-94, 105, 129 w., 

136 n., 142, 166, 222 n. 
Lancaster, 326, 331 
Lanchester, 331 
Langport, 331 
Launceston, 331 
Launditch, 333 
Ledbury, 331 
Leeds, 217 w., 323, 325, 

331, 336 
Leek, 322, 331 
Leicester, 113 »2.., 165 w., 

331 
Leigh, 331 
Leighton Buzzard, 332, 

341 
Leominster, 332 
Leonard, St. (Shoreditch), 

332 
Lewes, 326, 332, 340 
Lewisham, 332, 341 



Lexden, 332, 341 

Leyburn, 332 

Lichfield, 332 

Lincoln, 332 

Lingfield, 171 

Linton, 332 

Liskeard, 332 

Liverpool, 19, 55, 112 «., 
120, 146 n., 217, 237, 332 

Llandilo Fawr, 332 

Llandovery, 332 

Llanelly, 332 

Llanfyllin, 332 

Llanidloes, 334 

Llanrwst, 332 

Loddon, 332 

London, 14, 25. 34, 35, 91, 
96-98, 99, 108, 112, 116, 
118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 

123, 127, 129, 136 n., 
137 ?i., 139 «., 140, 145, 
147 n., 148, 151, 156, 
159, 160, 161, 163, 166, 
168, 169 n., 174 n., 178, 
186, 188 w., 190, 192 w., 
207 n., 208, 212 w., 214, 
215, 224, 225, 227, 231, 
233 n., 235, 242, 243, 
264, 332 

Long Ashton, 323, 332 
Lougtown, 332 
Lothiugland, 334, 341 
Loughborough, 332 
Louth, 332 
Ludlow, 109 n., 332 
Luke, St, (Chelsea), 332 
Luke, St. (Middlesex), 330, 

332 
Lunesdale, 326, 332 
Luton, 332 

Lutterworth, 324, 332 
Lymington, 332 

Macclesfield, 332 

Machynlleth, 332 

Madeley, 332 

Maidenhead, 326, 332 

Maidstone, 332 

Maldon, 26 «., 332, 341 

Mailing, 332 

Malmesbury, 332 

Malton, 332, 342 

Manchester, 92 »., 94, 104, 
105 n., 108 K., 112 n., 
118 n., 119 w., 120 11., 

124, 141, 152, 153, 163, 
168 n., 175, 178, 214 n., 
215, 217 n., 333, 336 

Mansfield, 333 
Margaret, St., 328, 333 
Margate, 108 n., 188 n., 
241 n. 



368 



ENGLISH POOR LA W POLICY 



Market Bosworth, 324, 333 
Market Drayton, 333 
Market Harborough, 333 
Marlborough, 333 
Marston Green, 186 w. 
Martin, St., 333, 338 
Mary, St. (Islington), 333 
Mary, St. (Lambeth), 333 
Mary, St. (Newmgton), 333 
Mary, St. (Rotherhithe), 333 
Mary, St. (Whittlesey), 333, 

340 
Mary Magdalen, St., 324, 

333 
Marylebone, St., 145 n., 333 
Medway, 333 
Melksham, 333, 339 
Melton Mowbray, 333 
Mere, 333 
Meriden, 333 
Merthyr Tydfil, 333, 335 
Middlesborough, 329, 333, 

338 
Midhurst, 333, 338 
Mildenhall, 225, 333 
MUe End New Town, 333 
Mile End Old Town, 214 w,, 

333, 338 
MUton, 329, 333 
Mitch am, Vll ii. 

Mitford and Lauuditch, 333 
Monmouth, 333 
Montgomery, 328, 333 
Morpeth, 334 
Mutford and Lothingland, 

334, 341 

Nantwicb, 334, 340 

Narberth, 334 

Neath, 334, 335 

Neot's, St., 334 

Newark, 334 

Newbury, 334 

Newcastle in Emlyn, 334 

Newcastle-under-Lyme, 334 

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 34 «., 
59 n., 105 m., 112-113 m., 
114 n., 151 n., 15S n., 
216 71., 220 n., 334 

Newent, 334 

New Forest, 334 

Newhaven, 334 

Newington, 152 n., 334 

Newmarket, 334 

Newport (Monmouth), 334 

Newport (Salop), 334 

Newport Pagnell, 334 

Newton Abbot, 334 

Newtown and Llanidloes, 
334 

Norfolk, 218 

Northallerton, 334 



Northampton, 334 
North Aylesford, 334, 338 
North Bierley, 324, 334 
Northleach, 334 
North Shields, 177 n. 
North Witchford, 334 
Norton, 332, 342 
Norwich, 25, 66, 109-111, 

129, 201, 334 
Norwood, 44, 108 n. 
Nottingham, 322, 334, 336, 

342 
Nuneaton, 26 «., 334 

Oakham, 334 

Okehampton, 334 

Olave, St.,212w., 324, 333. 

334 
Old Gravel Lane, 238 n. 
Oldham, 334 
Ongar, 334 
Ormskirk, 334 
Orsett, 334 
Oswestry, 334 
Oundle, 334 
Ouseburn, 335 
Oxford, 112 w., 335 

Paddington, 119 w., 335 

Pancras, St., 322, 335, 342 

Pateley Bridge, 335 

Patrington, 335 

Pembroke, 335 

Peubridge, 325, 335 

Penistone, 335, 341 

Penrith, 335 

Penzance, 335 

Pershore, 335 

Peterborough, 335 

Petersfield, 330, 335 

Petworth, 335, 338 

Pewsey, 335 

Pickering, 335 

Plomesgate, 335 

Plymouth, 28 n., 42 n., 
125 n., 208 w., 335 

Plymptou, 335 

Pocklington, 335 

Pontadawe, 334, 335, 338 

Pontefract, 323, 335, 336 

Pontypool, 335 

Pontypridd, 325, 333, 335 

Pool, 328, 333 

Poole, 335 

Poplar, 63 n. , 73, 121 n., 
129, 142, 144 n, 157, 
161-163, 164 n., 166 w., 
169-171, 178, 211 «., 
232 w., 236, 236-237 n., 
241, 243, 260, 335 

Portsea Island, 208 w., 335 

Portsmouth, 335 



Potterspury, 336 

Prescot, 336 

Presteigne, 331, 336 

Preston, 336 

Prestwich, 92 n., 214 n.y 

333, 336 
Purbeck, 339 
Pwllheli, 336 

Eadford, 334, 336 
Ramsbury, 330 
Reading, 336 
Redruth, 221, 336 
Reeth, 336 
Reigate, 336 
Rhayader, 336 
Richmond (Surrey), 217, 

336 
Richmond (Yorks), 336 
Ringwood, 336 
Ripen, 336 
Risbridge, 336 
Rochdale, 222 n., 336 
Rochford, 336 
Romford, 336 
Romney Marsh, 67, 336 
Romsey, 336 
Ross, 336 
Rothburjr, 336 
Rotherham, 336 
Rotherhithe, 119 n., 324, 

333, 336 
Rottingdean, 188 n, 
Royston, 77, 336 
Rugby, 324, 336 
Runcorn, 336 
Ruthin, 336 
Rye, 336 

Saddleworth, 336, 337 
Saffron Walden, 337 
Salford, 105 w, 129 n., 

214 n., 337 
Salisbury, 322, 337 
Samford, 337 
Saviour's Street, 328, 333, 

337 
Scarborough, 337 
Scotland, 95, 114, 343-363 
Sculcoates, 337 
Sedbergh, 337 
Sedgefield, 337 
Seisdon, 337 
Selby, 336, 337 
Settle, 337 
Sevenoaks, 60, 337 
Shaftesbury, 337 
Shardlow, 337 
Sheffield, 187 7^., 337 
Sheppey, 337 
Shepton Mallet, 337 
Sherborne, 337 



INDEX OF UNIONS AND OTHER PLACES MENTIONED 369 



Shiffnal, 337 
Shipston-ou-Stour, 337 
Shoreditch, 337 
Shrewsbury, 323, 337 
Shropshire, 113 
Skipton, 337 
Skirlaugh, 337 
Sl